Swimming’s world governing body has defended a decision to award its highest honour to Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it had nothing to do with politics.
FINA has been criticised over the timing of the decision with relations between Russia and the NATO alliance under strain, but the body’s executive director Cornel Marculescu told Reuters that the award was related only to sport.
“Our constitution is very clear,” Marculescu said. “(there is) no discrimination for the political region or anything like that. Our award was only related to the sport, not with the rest.”
FINA president Julio Maglione announced earlier this month that Putin had been awarded the FINA Order — swimming’s top accolade — for his role in bringing international swimming events to Russia.
Russia has been a regular stopover on swimming’s annual World Cup circuit for the past decade and also hosted World Cup diving meets. Next year, Russia will host FINA’s world championships, in Kazan, swimming’s last major international event before the 2016 Rio Olympics.
FINA released a statement explaining its decision at the time of the award: “In the case of President Vladimir Putin, FINA recognised his important support in the organisation of major FINA events in Russian soil, thus bringing additional development to the FINA disciplines and providing increased value to Aquatics within the Russian society and worldwide.”
But FINA’s decision has also attracted some criticism. A German MP, Frank Steffel, told the local Die Zeit newspaper that FINA’s decision was “insensitive”, while swimming website swimvortex.com published a letter of complaint from the American Swimming Coaches Association (ASCA).
According to the letter, the ASCA were angry that the award had been given at a time when Russia is facing the risk of being suspended from international competition after a series of positive drug tests.
Marculescu, in Singapore for this weekend’s final round of the FINA World Cup series, said he was surprised by the criticism.
“It’s not the first time we have given this kind of award to people in the highest position, the president of countries, or the mayors of cities,” he told Reuters. ”In general, every place where we have a big championship, we give this award,” he added.
Singapore will play host to swimming stars such as Chad Le Clos, Katinka Hosszu, Daiya Seto and Francesca Halsall for the final leg of the FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup 2014 over the weekend.
Swimming alongside them at the new OCBC Aquatic Centre will be Singapore’s very own Tao Li, Amanda Lim, Danny Yeo, Russell Ong and Pang Sheng Jun.
This will be the first time that the Swimming World Cup is held at the OCBC Aquatic Centre.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday (Oct 31), Mr Lee Kok Choy, president of the Singapore Swimming Association, said that the association was “very excited” to be hosting another edition of the Swimming World Cup. He added that the event is an opportunity for Team Singapore swimmers to prepare for next year’s Southeast Asian Games.
World champion swimmer Chad Le Clos said that he was glad to be back in the country where he kicked off his career at the 2010 Youth Olympics. “So far, I am undefeated in the whole FINA World Cup series and I’m really happy on my performance,” he added.
Singapore swim queen Tao Li is also raring to go. “It’s very exciting to race with world-class athletes and I will try my best to make Singapore proud.”
The Swimming World Cup Singapore 2014 will begin with the heats from 9am to 12pm on Nov 1 and 2. The finals will be from 5.30pm to 8pm on both days.
The first Welsh woman to swim across the English Channel has died.
Jenny James, from Pontypridd, was 24 when she swam from Calais to Dover in August 1951 in 13 hours and 55 minutes.
She died at a care home in Porth, Rhondda Cynon Taf, at the age of 87 and the council has plans to honour her.
Her niece, Samantha Davies, who lives in her aunt’s hometown, said: “When I’ve gone into hospital with her, people have said to me ‘is that THE Jenny James? She taught me to swim’”.
Ms James, who worked as a swimming coach and lifeguard, was given a huge reception by the people of Pontypridd when she returned after the 1951 swim.
Mrs Davies said “hundreds and hundreds” of people welcomed her back.
Her aunt was given the freedom of Pontypridd and free entrance for life to any swimming pool in Wales.
Sport ran in the family’s blood, with Ms James’s late brother Len ‘Rocky’ James captaining the Wales boxing team at what was then known as the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia, in 1962.
“How proud can you be, when you know what my father did with boxing and my auntie Jenny for her swimming?” said Mrs Davies.
A council spokesman said it would honour Ms James’s memory at the new Pontypridd lido when it opens in the summer of 2015.
Chad le Clos, one of the few men to have beaten Michael Phelps at the Olympics, has thrown down the challenge to his old rival, urging him to get back into training so they can have a rematch at Rio in 2016.
The South African pulled one of the biggest upsets of the 2012 London Olympics when he got his hands on the wall ahead of Phelps after a dog fight to win the gold medal in the 200 metres butterfly.
When Phelps retired after London, Le Clos easily won the 100-200m butterfly double at last year’s world championships, but the prospect of another showdown with the greatest swimmer of all time has got him excited.
“I really, really hope that he and his team decide to swim in Rio, I really believe it will be great,” Le Clos told Reuters on Friday.
“It’s added motivation for me… with Michael back, it’s really sparked my fire, so to speak.”
Phelps and Le Clos had another ferocious battle in London, with the American coming out on top in the 100m butterfly, an event he has won at three successive Olympics.
But the 22-year-old Le Clos has been working hard on his speed since then to avenge that loss and believes he can not only win both events next time, but can also break both world records, currently held by Phelps.
“I believe by Rio, I should be in peak condition,” said Le Clos, currently in Singapore for the final round of swimming’s annual World Cup series.
“I don’t think he will be worse in Rio, I think he’ll be back where he wants to be.
“He’s a champion in all respects but I believe I can beat him again.”
Phelps returned to swimming last year and quickly set about making up for lost time, suggesting he was on course for Rio.
He qualified for the U.S. team for next year’s world championships in Russia but lost his place and was suspended for six months by USA swimming after being arrested for drunken driving.
He is currently undergoing treatment and is not certain of making it to Rio though few doubt he will be on the blocks in Brazil, looking to add to his record tally of 18 golds.
Cornel Marculescu, the executive director of world governing body FINA, told Reuters that Phelps would be welcomed back to the sport with open arms.
“Michael Phelps is an icon, he’s demonstrated everything he can demonstrate, he’s the best Olympic athlete of all time,” Marculescu said.
“If he comes back and swims, we’ll be very happy, we’ll welcome him and I’m sure all the swimmers will be very happy to race against him again.
“Any person has an accident but he is Phelps, he’s always going to be Phelps, he has the biggest number of achievements.
“I don’t think we have to characterise him by one accident.”
Durban has made it clear that it is ready to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022, The Witness reports.
And with just a decision by the national cabinet pending, and expected before the end of November, senior sports officials have said they would be “ready to rock ’n roll” to make the event happen.
Vusi Mazibuko, general manager of Moses Mabhida Stadium, who is leading the charge for the city, confirmed that Durban is ready.
“The necessary reports are being compiled and will be submitted to Parliament shortly, but based on the requirements of the games, Durban can host the event.
“While Durban would be the host city, the country would be the ultimate host, so national approval is needed.”
This week a report compiled by an eThekwini Metro observer mission led by Mazibuko – which attended the recent Glasgow, Scotland, Commonwealth Games – confirmed the city had all the required infrastructure.
“We can host all the core sports and have multiple indoor facilities, such as the ICC and Durban Exhibition Centre. The economic spin-offs and legacy projects would be significant.”
The Commonwealth Games, in which just over 50 countries participate, allows cities to use existing infrastructure.
SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee board member Mark Alexander said they expected the cabinet to take a decision soon.
“I really hope they do, as it would be good for the country. Within a 2.5 km stretch, Durban can host nine of the 10 core sports, and by that time the city’s bus rapid transport system will be operational.
“We already have plans in place, so that, if Parliament gives the go-ahead, we are ready to rock ’n roll,” said Alexander.
Lee-Roy Newton, vice-president of KwaZulu-Natal Athletics, said bringing the Commonwealth Games to Durban would be a victory for Africa. “An African state might not win the FiFA World Cup in my lifetime, but Africans have continually dominated in athletics.
“It is not just about the games, but will allow for an upgrade of all our facilities and, in turn, position Durban as a great training destination for teams across the globe. Already, as a country, South Africa attracts 50% of the world’s top athletes to various high-performance centres across the country.”
He said the spin-offs would be significant.
While the cost of hosting the games has yet to be determined, the observer mission report said that the Glasgow games cost some £650m (R11.4 bn), with £90m going towards security.
Cities bidding for the games need to submit their bids by March 2015. The only other known bidder is Edmonton, Canada.
The ever so humble Natalie du Toit has always been one of my favourite sporting stars. An unbelievable ambassador for South Africa and despite having retired from swimming a little over two years ago, the international recognition is still coming in.
Just this week, du Toit was awarded the Royal order of Sporting merit, bronze medal from the Ministerio De Educacion, Cultura Y Deporte in Madrid.
“It is for me a particular satisfaction to be able to inform you that, in view of the merits, circumstances and contributions to sport embodied in your person, I have arranged for you (Natalie du Toit) to be admitted to the Royal Order of Sporting Merit, in the Bronze Medal category. Such a well deserved distinction is in recognition of your brilliant career, which has decisively helped in the national and international projection of Spanish sport.” – Miguel Cardenal Carro
If only she was given the same recognition back home for what she has not only done for SA paralympians but for swimming as a whole.
I caught up Natalie du Toit soon after she received a MBE last year.
GJ: MBE, it’s got a nice ring to it Nats, congratulations.
NDT: Thanks very much Graeme. It caught me completely off guard. Because of the British honour you would never think something like that could be bestowed upon a South African. So, completely humbled. I think if I can put it in words, I would never ever have expected it and sometimes it doesn’t feel like it’s real.
GJ: Just looking at the press release and it says Her Majesty the Queen has announced that South African Olympic and Para-Olympic medal winning swimmer Natalie Du Toit has been awarded an honorary MBE for her services to Para-Olympic sport.
NDT: It is quite a strange thing because I’ve been fortunate to meet the Queen once or twice before and it is very humbling. I would put it on par with former President Nelson Mandela, that humbling experience that you get when you hear his name or you’re in his presence. Throughout my career, it’s been all about doing what you feel is right and it is about the team going out there and believing in a dream and believing in a goal and believing you can do it. And if you go out and you do extra work, you know, you don’t expect that award at the end of the day. That work is done because you want to make a difference, and we’ve always given the advice that go out there and give as much of the knowledge that you know and pass it on to others.
GJ: So many challenges from day one of your career but all worth it in the end?
NDT: I think when we go out there it is about achieving our dreams, so you know my team always said … whatever it takes for us to be able to achieve that dream we’re going to do and it. Swimming was my dream and so we gave back and we basically did the whole package of giving back, swimming, training and working. And it is I guess worth it in the way that swimming was worth it and for 22 years I gave everything up. But when you walk away I don’t really see that you have anything much in life other than a name or an award. There is nothing else and you still have to go out there and make a success of something else or something in life. So it is quite an interesting thing to try and explain but for me it is an end to a chapter.
GJ: But not many athletes get a chapter to end with a MBE?
NDT: I have got to really just say thank you to the British High Commission for nominating me, Gary Benham, Isabel Potgieter and company … to them it is doing it without me knowing and phoning me up and saying … look you have been awarded this MBE so could we please have a paragraph about how you feel. It takes you off guard because it is not South Africans, it is British people out there that have gone out of their way and been part of that journey in the last 2 or 3 years. So, I have got to say thank you to everybody who has been working with me and believe that we could achieve what we have.
GJ: It’s world recognition as well for a remarkable athlete Nats but I won’t embarrass you any further. Life after swimming – has it been tough?
NDT: It has been very tough. As I said you walk away with I guess a name and an association with swimming, and although you understand that you’ve been built through a sport and the sport has built who you are, you know, to walk away with basically … you don’t really have that much money, you don’t have many friends, you don’t even know what your interests are at the end of the day. I trained 8 hours a day, I ran 3 programmes and you never really in South Africa. When you’re here you are trying to earn a bit of money and after all of that nothing ever would … what would you call it … prepare you for knowing that you actually have nothing. You’ve ended everything so you have to start something completely different and something completely new, and even though you think you’re prepared, you will never ever be truly prepared.
GJ: Looking back at that incredible career – so many great highlights that I can remember.
NDT: You know we always made memories wherever we went, no matter how bad or how good or what was happening. We always have a good memory of a tour. From year to year you have competition and you’re always trying to aim for it and you try and train harder and harder. The people that you meet, you know everything stands out. At the end of the day, it moulds you into who you are and to be able to walk away and to say thank you for all of that, and appreciate it and try and use it further on, because there are lots of lessons that you can learn in this sport. I guess qualifying for the Olympics in 2008 would be the highest achievement for me in that I trained so hard and it took me so long. Missing the Olympics in Sydney in 2000 by less than half a second, then having a motorbike accident and changing strokes and basically starting from scratch. Then eventually achieving it. You know that all sort of culminates and at the end of the day when the team has achieved it, I guess the proudest moment that you can ever go through. We’ve done it. With everybody saying … you’ll never achieve it, and the handful that believed that you would … you’ve done it and that would be everything.
GJ: Who will ever forget Natalie fu Toit, the first amputee ever to qualify for the Olympic Games. Just amazing. Nats I am probably fishing here and you can say pass if you don’t want to answer the question but are the Paralympians well looked after in South Africa?
NDT: I guess ….
GJ: You can say pass.
NDT: You know at the end of the day if I look in general at my sport, I didn’t do it for the money, I did it because I enjoyed it and it is sad and it is hurtful that there are sports out there that do get the money and you don’t. I always believe that there is always potential to grow and it is not to look at what is bad in the sport or how little they’re getting but to keep it growing and to have people in the sport that, you know, who are willing to go out there and work hard for that, and believe in the athletes. If I didn’t have my team that believed in me and no matter if it was my leg that needed to go from the start to the finish and it was taken by the wrong person, you know, that is just not how it works. So everyone had their role and everyone had their competency, and everyone worked together and joined hands … and if you don’t have that and if you don’t have the interest of the athlete, how would the athlete do better, what would make them tick? I always saw that with my team and if we had people like that in the sport, I definitely think that not just the athletes but everything else would grow immensely.
GJ: I’ve just heard so many horror stories about how many different Paralympic swimmers for instance, their coaches can’t get funding to go to competitions and the extra assistance is just not there for the athletes. What has been your motto throughout life?
NDT: If I can say how tough life actually can be and it is just to try and get through it and those patches in which you are completely down, it is to live them and somehow to try and come through it at the end of the day. I am proof that it is possible, no matter if it takes you 22 years or if it takes you one year or one month, it is possible to get through that dip. And right now I have no idea what I want to do, it is extremely difficult and I always feel like a failure where I feel like, you know, everyone thinks you’re this big success but I don’t know what I want to do. So, you put a lot of pressure on yourself and at the end of the day to believe that it will all work out and not just to believe it but to go out and actually work to try and find it or to try and achieve whatever you want to. Life doesn’t come easy and all of us go through bad patches and good patches and it is to embrace it. That was the advise that was given to me, but also … the advise came after I had learned a lot of lessons and it just put it all into perspective. It is to set goals, dreams, live by values and you know that is basically the brand that was created, was values and to never ever let those values fall at any point in time.
Photo: Natalie du Toit being awarded an MBE by the Earl of Essex last year
Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy
Email Graeme at: email@example.com
Disclaimer: ZwemZa encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on ZwemZa are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of ZwemZa.
Hungary’s Kazinka Hosszu continued amassing gold medals in the 2014 edition of the FINA/MASTBANK Swimming World Cup, earning seven more titles in the sixth leg of the series, held in Tokyo (JPN) on October 28-29. The Magyar swimmer was the best in the 200m free, 100m and 200m backstroke, 200m butterfly, 100m, 200m and 400m individual medley. Moreover, she was also the best female performer of the meet, with her 57.74 effort in the 100m IM (985 points).
Still in the women’s field, Fran Halsall (GBR), Mireia Belmonte (ESP) and Inge Dekker (NED) were the remaining multi-gold medallists in the Japanese capital. Halsall touched first in the 50m and 100m free, and 50m back, while Belmonte was the fastest in the 400m and 800m free, and Dekker in the 50m and 100m fly. Ruta Meilutyte (LTU, 50m breaststroke), Alia Atkinson (JAM, 100m breast) and Rie Kaneto (JPN, 200m breast) complete the list of female winners in Tokyo.
With these results, Hosszu (889 points) naturally consolidated her lead of the 2014 overall ranking, being followed by Dekker (second, 330 points) and Belmonte (third, 255).
Among men, Chad Le Clos (RSA) and local hero Kosuke Hagino shared the honours in this sixth leg, winning three events each. Hagino got the gold in the 200m free, 100m and 200m individual medley, while Le Clos imposed his superiority in the 50m, 100m and 200m butterfly. The Japanese star set the only World Cup record in Tokyo, after touching home in 1:51.27 in the 200m IM; however, Le Clos was the best male performer of the competition, with his 1:49.20 victory in the 200m fly (982 points).
Shinri Shioura (50m free), Katsumi Nakamura (100m free), Yuki Shirai (200m back) and Daiya Seto (400m IM) assured the remaining triumphs for Japan at home soil. Hungary had in Gergely Gyurta (1500m free) and Daniel Gyurta (100m and 200m breast) its male winners in Tokyo, while USA (Eugene Godsoe, 100m back), Spain (Miguel Ortiz, 50m back) and South Africa (Roland Schoeman, 50m breast; Myles Brown, 400m free) had also gold medallists in Tokyo.
Before the seventh and final meet of the series, to be staged in Singapore on November 1-2, Le Clos (414 points) is firmly in the lead of the men’s overall ranking; Daniel Gyurta is second with 293 points and Tom Shields (USA) completes the top-3 with 225.
Winners in Tokyo (JPN):
50m free: Men – Shinri Shioura (JPN), 21.38; Women – Fran Halsall (GBR), 23.80
100m free: Men – Katsumi Nakamura (JPN), 47.30; Women – Fran Halsall (GBR), 51.96
200m free: Men – Kosuke Hagino (JPN), 1:42.62; Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 1:52.45
400m free: Men – Myles Brown (RSA), 3:37.96; Women – Mireia Belmonte (ESP), 4:00.87
800m free: Women – Mireia Belmonte (ESP), 8:08.57
1500m free: Men – Gergely Gyurta (HUN), 14:36.38
50m back: Men – Miguel Ortiz (ESP), 23.30; Women – Fran Halsall (GBR), 26.42
100m back: Men – Eugene Godsoe (USA), 50.49; Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 56.07
200m back: Men – Yuki Shirai (JPN), 1:49.95; Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:01.97
50m breast: Men – Roland Schoeman (RSA), 26.02; Women – Ruta Meilutyte (LTU), 29.36
100m breast: Men – Daniel Gyurta (HUN), 57.23; Women – Alia Atkinson (JAM), 1:02.86
200m breast: Men – Daniel Gyurta (HUN), 2:02.12; Women – Rie Kaneto (JPN), 2:19.18
50m fly: Men – Chad Le Clos (RSA), 22.20; Women – Inge Dekker (NED), 25.18
100m fly: Men – Chad Le Clos (RSA), 48.95; Women – Inge Dekker (NED), 56.11
200m fly: Men – Chad Le Clos (RSA), 1:49.20; Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:03.14
100m IM: Men – Kosuke Hagino (JPN), 52.03; Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 57.74
200m IM: Men – Kosuke Hagino (JPN), 1:51.27 (World Cup record); Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:05.18
400m IM: Men – Daiya Seto (JPN), 3:59.91; Women – Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 4:23.67
4x50m free mixed: Japan, 1:33.28
4x50m medley mixed: Japan, 1:40.51
TOP-3 OVERALL RANKING (before seventh and final leg):
1. Chad Le Clos (RSA), 414 points
2. Daniel Gyurta HUN), 293 pts
3. Tom Shields (USA), 225 pts
1. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 889 points
2. Inge Dekker (NED), 330 pts
3. Mireia Belmonte (ESP), 255 pts
As thousands of people watch in Omaha, Nebraska, Elizabeth Pelton walks out onto the pool deck at the 2012 Olympic Trials. With music blaring in her headphones blocking out the screaming crowd, she adjusts her black T2 Aquatic swim cap. She strips down to her black speed suit, nerves jolting through her body. Pelton takes out her headphones and hears the crowd around her. Putting on her black goggles, she jumps into the pool with the other competitors. The roar of the crowd surrounds her as she holds on the wall, ready to push off.
The monotone voice of the announcer echoes through the stadium.
“Take your marks.”
She pulls her body closer to the wall, waiting in her racing position. Then a harsh beep sounds, signifying the start of her last race at one of the biggest meets of her career. Because she placed third in the 200-meter individual medley a few days earlier and only the top two swimmers from the trials qualify for the Olympics, this is Pelton’s last chance to make the 2012 Olympic team.
She pushes off the wall and starts powering through the water, her long, rhythmic stroke creating waves. Pelton glides elegantly into the first turn, keeping pace with the competition. With only a blue-and-yellow lane line between them, Missy Franklin begins to pull ahead after the first turn. After the third turn, Elizabeth Beisel pulls ahead.
With the crowd loudly cheering and 50 meters left to go, Pelton pushes herself even harder. Now, she and Beisel are neck and neck with two meters left. She reaches out her hand, and her fingers brush the wall. She lifts her head up from the water and looks at the scoreboard.
Third. Next to the number two on the monitor, it says “Elizabeth” — it’s just the wrong one.
By the time Elizabeth Pelton was 12 years old, she had already accomplished things many swimmers only dream about. She broke countless age-group records years earlier and made her first Olympic trials at the age of 12. Her parents realized their daughter could have a successful future in the sport.
Deciding their Connecticut swim club wasn’t competitive enough to offer their daughter the resources she would need to be the best she could, her family made the joint decision to move to Baltimore. This gave Pelton and her older brother, Gregory, the opportunity to swim at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, home to Olympians Katie Hoff and Michael Phelps.
“It wasn’t just an environment of a swim team, and it’s fun,” Pelton says. “If you are there, you are trying to be on the national team or the national junior team or top five in the country, so it elevated my expectations.”
At NBAC, Pelton’s primary coach from ages 13 to 15 was Paul Yetter. He helped her set higher goals than the ones she had back in Connecticut. Yetter showed her the top times of collegiate swimmers around the country for her to try to beat and tried to decrease her times gradually.
“She had reached a level where she was better than her peers by quite a distance,” Yetter says. “I thought she would be excited by those kind of challenges — that’s Liz’s personality.”
Under Yetter’s supervision, Pelton also worked on improving her endurance. Yetter remarked that from the beginning Pelton’s strength was her speed, and she was able to develop “a great aerobic capacity.”
She soon started to realize just how much potential she had.
“It really kicked in once I made my first world championship team in 2009, right after Beijing,” says Pelton. “It was a few years after we moved to Baltimore. But that was when I was like, wow, OK, like I’m second best in the United States, and I’m 15.”
Many kids who were in the elite group at NBAC with Pelton were homeschooled in order to free up more time for swimming and give them the ability to go on extended trips. Pelton’s parents also adopted homeschooling starting in eighth grade, which allowed her to go to practice at 6 a.m. and then again in the afternoon.
“Honestly, she learned more, she said, in homeschooling than she ever did in school. So it worked out really great,” her mother Anne Pelton says.
Once she began high school, her homeschooling switched to a co-op, a meeting with a group of students and teachers once a week to conduct activities such as labs. She continued to be homeschooled by completing an online program, which she took part in until she came to UC Berkeley.
Pelton’s experience differed from that of a normal high-school student. She still attended dances and prom with students from her school, but the only people she saw every day were her teammates. But she still doesn’t think she missed out on anything.
“It was really fulfilling, it still is, to do something that not a lot of people get to do,” Pelton says. “And, in my mind, I was like, ‘Well, I could be studying for my physics test, but with my program I finished physics in three months, and I got to go to Rome for world championships and represent the U.S. and win a medal.’ ”
Yetter left Baltimore in 2009, leaving Pelton to train under Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps’ coach, for three years. Heading into her senior year, Pelton decided she wanted to train with her former coach once again to prepare for the 2012 Olympic Trials the coming summer. So Pelton moved down to Naples, Florida, for her senior year to train with Yetter at the new T2 Aquatics.
In Naples, Pelton lived with a host family five minutes from the beach and was able to train at an outdoor swimming pool. Despite being far away from her family, this year gave her a taste of independence that was to come at college. She describes it as “one of the greatest years” of her life.
Going into (the 2012) Olympic Trials, I was like, ‘OK, this is going to be one of those pivotal moments in life where you look back and go, that’s where my life changed,’ ” Pelton says. “If I make the team, I’m going to be an Olympian, but if I don’t, then I have that on me as not making the team.”
Franklin — now Pelton’s teammate at Cal — was expected to dominate the 200-meter backstroke, which left Pelton and Beisel fighting for second and the last spot on the Olympic team.
“It was between me and my best friend,” Pelton says.
As she walked out of the underground room where the swimmers wait minutes before a race, the two swimmers stopped and gave each other a look. Pelton describes it as a “Whatever happens, buddy” kind of moment. They gave each other a hug and walked out as competitors.
Pelton raced in three events during the trials, finishing 15th in the semifinals of the 100-meter free — which meant she didn’t qualify for the finals — in addition to finishing third in the 200-meter back and the 200-meter IM.
“There is this notorious third-place club that you really, really do not want to get an invitation to,” Pelton says. “And if you do, don’t accept it, because there is nothing like missing the Olympic team, by not even one spot or something, but two tenths of a second.”
In her 200-meter backstroke loss, Pelton fell to Beisel by 0.08 of a second. In the 200-meter IM, she finished 0.25 behind the second-place swimmer.
“I still have moments where I look back, like, what went wrong,” Pelton says. “I have vivid moments in the race where I knew, ‘OK, this is it. It’s either going to happen or not.’ In that moment, I was kind of in disbelief, and it kind of felt like a movie, to be honest.”
Pelton admits it took her a while to move on. It took the whole family a while to move on.
“It was hard for all of us,” Anne says. “It just felt like it was not meant to be, to be that close in two races. I think she learned a lot about dealing with disappointment and stuff. I think we all did. I pretty much feel like now, if we can deal that, we can handle anything. This is life.”
Her first year at Cal, Pelton had the best season of her career. Under head coach Teri McKeever, Pelton set times that would have easily gotten her onto the Olympic team. At the NCAAs, she helped Cal place second overall. Pelton’s individual performance was phenomenal, breaking the American, U.S. Open and NCAA record in the 200-yard backstroke, 1:47.84. She also won NCAA Swimmer of the Year and NCAA Swimmer of the Meet after receiving seven All-American honors at the championships.
As her time at Cal has continued, success has become team oriented. And even though she faces pressure for the future, including questions of the 2016 Olympics, Pelton hasn’t let that get to her head.
“If I do everything I am capable of no matter what happens, I will be content,” Pelton says. “I just want to know there is nothing more I could have done.”
Part of why she did so well in the beginning of her college career was following along with the system the Cal coaches established for her.
“One of the things that Elizabeth did a great job with was jumping into our program and trusting it and not looking back,” Cal associate head coach Kristen Cunnane says. “I just like being around her.”
In most relay races, she is last, “the anchor,” bringing her team in for the victory or defeat. It is up to her, but she is not afraid of the pressure. In her own words, the person who finishes a relay has to be “fearless.”
And she is.
USA Swimming announced rosters for next summer’s trio of major international competitions — the 2015 FINA World Championships, Pan American Games and World University Games. All three competitions will take place in July or August.
“The momentum generated in 2015 will be key for USA Swimming as we build toward the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio,” said USA Swimming National Team Director Frank Busch. “We’ve assembled three exciting teams for next summer, and I look forward to seeing how we stack up on the international stage.”
Five current or former All-Met swimmers were named to the rosters.
Team USA will send a 47-member squad to the pool competition the world championships in Kazan, Russia, set for Aug. 2-9. Twenty Olympians were named to the team, including the stars from the 2013 Barcelona World Championships, Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin.
Joining Ledecky and Franklin will be gold medalists Ryan Lochte, Tyler Clary, Nathan Adrian, Anthony Ervin and Matt Grevers.
Notably absent from the team is swimming’s biggest star, Michael Phelps, who was suspended from representing the United States next summer following an arrest for driving under the influence in Baltimore in late September. Phelps’s events were filled by Clary and Tim Phillips, who was added to the roster.
Also named were the 36 athletes nominated to represent the U.S. at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto from July 14-18, 2015. Pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee, the roster includes a star-studded group featuring more than 20 national team members, 10 Olympians and six Olympic gold medalists. A complete 2015 Pan American Games roster is available online.
Headlining the group is Natalie Coughlin, a three-time Olympian and 12-time Olympic medalist. Coughlin had a poor showing at U.S. nationals in August and missed qualifying for the world championships team. She will be joined in Toronto by Olympic gold medalists Matt McLean (Sterling, Va.), a former All-Met out of Potomac Falls, Cullen Jones, Allison Schmitt and Nick Thoman.
Rounding out USA Swimming’s international team will be 46 swimmers selected to the 2015 World University Games in Gwangju, South Korea. Olympians Rachel Bootsma, Lia Neal and Shannon Vreeland highlight the list. The swimming competition is slated for July 4-11, 2015. A complete 2015 World University Games roster is available online.
Also getting the nod are former three-time All-Met Swimmer of the Year Jack Conger, a Texas sophomore, reigning All-Met Swimmer of the Year Andrew Seliskar, a Jefferson senior and California commit, and Carsten Vissering, a three-time first-team All-Met out of Georgetown Prep and Southern California commit.
Complete selection procedures for each team are outlined at usaswimming.org. The open water swimmers slated to compete at each competition will be named in 2015.
Each and every week we read about another South African sportsperson or team having to pay their own way to represent South Africa.
Lack of funding can’t be used as an excuse as the money is there but is it going to the athletes?
More than often, it’s getting used for other purposes and for administrators to enjoy their lavish lifestyles.
When other nations like Great Britain are improving with every Olympic Games, SA is falling behind.
SA’s performance at the last five Olympic Games:
1996 – Atlanta (5 medals)
2000 – Sydney (5 medals)
2004 – Athens (6 medals)
2008 – Beijing (1 medal)
2012 – London (6 medals)
Why have we not improved as a nation when millions of rand is supposedly paid out by the Lottery (NLDTF) monthly to benefit our athletes?
Questions need to be asked of the Lotto distribution agency but good luck trying to get any meaningful answers.
The chairperson of the Agency for Sport and Recreation is former SASCOC consultant and SA Rugby official, Mveleli Ncula.
The Deputy Chairperson is Dr Harold Adams, a full-time government employee, president of Boland Athletics and a board member of the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS).
Ncula and Adams meet regularly and are both still close allies of SASCOC.
So, what happens when the SASCOC, SAIDS and Boland Athletics Lotto applications need to be adjudicated?
Ncula responded by saying:
“It (lotto) doesn’t adjudicate on any application where there is a conflicted member in the committee on the day of the adjudication. I wanted to help you but the truth of the matter is that they keep such information in files in the office and can make it available whenever it is required.”
Manager of the National Lotteries Board, Sershan Naidoo was not as forthcoming:
“As we have informed you many times already, where there is a conflict of interest, that particular application is adjudicated by one of the other Distributing Agencies. That is all we are willing to share with you in this regard.”
The reply from Adams after several emails:
“Sorry I am out of town for a few weeks and will forward your questions to the Lotto Chair. The Prof (Nevhutanda) will anyhow be the best person to address these issues.”
No response from Professor Nevhutanda and no-one can tell me which agency adjudicates when it comes to the SASCOC, Boland Athletics, SAIDS applications and others, where there is a conflict of interests.
Boland Athletics has received more than R4 million from the NLDTF in the last 18 months, yet the SA Athletics Association (ASA) didn’t even receive a grant in 2013, while it was under severe financial pressure.
You would think that ASA would be a Lotto beneficiary before Boland Athletics.
But the conflict of interests within the Lottery is nothing new.
Volleyball SA received more than R 8 million in 2009/2010 and just over R 3.2 million in 2010/2011.
Self appointed SASCOC CEO, Tubby Reddy is the long serving president of SA Volleyball and SASCOC president,
Gideon Sam and vice president, Hajera Kajee were then chairs of Lotto distribution agencies.
Vinesh Maharaj is the treasurer of Volleyball SA and the CFO of SASCOC.
Meanwhile, Sam was president of SA Triathlon, which received R5.2 million from the Lotto in 2011-2012 and was a director of the company which received commission on a R26-million Lotto grant to Cycling SA back in 2011.
Kajee like Adams is a full-time government employee and is also vice president of SA Table Tennis.
SA Table Tennis received R8.2 million in 2013 and this after the Lotto had capped each federation’s grants at R2 million per annum.
When last did we have a SA Table Tennis player at the Olympic Games?
The Lotto has a fraud line to report any suspicious activity but even that also seems to be conflicted as it’s run by the Lotto operator.
The only way to get the real answers would seem to be for the Public Protector to investigate as the Lotto is audited by the Auditor General.
I’ve heard from some of the smaller federations that the Lotto has carried out an audit on their spend but when asked about an audit on SASCOC, Naidoo said:
We do not ‘audit’ our beneficiaries. We receive reports from all our beneficiaries, including SASCOC. If we see the need (based on risk) for any visit or investigation, we then do so. Again, if you have any information of fraud or misuse of lottery funds, we urge you to send us such information for investigation.”
It’s more of the same old “unaccountable and untouchable” in SA sport and the Lotto millions paid out to SASCOC is more than staggering. They even got R17 million for the CHAN soccer tournament – an event they weren’t even involved in.
Where is it all going?
Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy
Email Graeme at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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