Jul 31, 2021 Sports
By Sean Devers
Guyana’s swimmer Aleka Persaud, who turned 15 in February, finished second in Heat 4 of the Women’s 50m Freestyle but barely missed out on advancing to the next round.
She clocked 27.76 at Tokyo Olympics for a personal best and a new national record for Guyana yesterday morning in Japan.
Since this Country participated in its inaugural Olympics as British Guiana in 1948, Persaud is the youngest Guyanese to attend the Olympics and is the fastest female swimmer in Guyana despite her age.
Her club Coach, Shawn Baksh did not travel with her toTokyo as Coach Shyka Gonsalves accompanied the pair of Persaud and male swimmer 25-year-old Policeman Andrew Fowler, who finished fourth in his 100m freestyle heat, to the 17th Olympics attended by this Country.
“The time she did was expected, we had been working to break into the 27’s since May it happened at the perfect time…she is also swimming the time other 15 year olds in the region are swimming but this 27 is deserving since we have only had pool training from January this year she was out of the water from March last year until this year. I’m very proud of her,” informed Coach Baksh.
“She has done all of this with only her parent’s support, no funding of any sort excepting for a few sponsors who contributed to help her attended the meets in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas,” lamented the Orca Swim Club Coach.
Ironically, it was at the Puerto Rico meet that Aleka was given a wild as Guyana’s fastest female swimmer.
The 23-year-old Jamila Sanmoogan was selected by GASA for the Olympics but was not sent to attend the Puerto Rico meet and FINA mandated that Aleka replace her because of her times in that Meet.
“I would say based on the development plan we have prepared for her a lot more needs to come her way to properly prepare her for the next Olympics….the time that she did is a B time for the Junior PANAM Games so our focus now will be on that,” explained Baksh.
“We are going to be preparing for Jr. Panam and then the FINA world championship in December. So it will be right back to training and looking into funding for her development,” concluded Coach Baksh.
Meanwhile, speaking from Tokyo shortly after Aleka set the new National record for her country Coach Gonsalves said she was very proud of Aleka.
“She did very well for herself. She has the fastest 50m freestyle for females in Guyana a great accomplishment,” added Coach Gonsalves.
Before her first race at an Olympic event, Coach Gonsalves disclosed that Aleka was in good spirits, excited and nervous at the same time as will be expected from anyone in Tokyo.
Speaking about Fowler and Persaud, Gonsalves felt the swimmers did not have enough pool time leading up to their participation in the biggest muli-sports Games in the world.
“The swimmers did the best they could for the amount of training sessions they got. There was no training in the year 2020. While the whole world has opened up the swimming pools, Guyana has not. I don’t think it is fair to place very high expectations on them,” Coach Gonsalves.
A study done in England showed that it took eight years in England on the investment per athlete that got a medal and it came up to 220,000 pounds per medal.
The study also stated that Olympians would also train at least 10,000 hours’ prep leading up to the games and compete at 7-10 international competitions per year at a minimum and this doesn’t factor in the development stage an athlete has to be invested in before reaching elite Olympic level.
Aliyah Abrams who will compete in the Women’s 400m and Emanuel Archibald in the 100m, are Guyana’s hope of getting a medal since Boxer Mike Parris won Bronze (Guyana’s only Medal) in the 1980 Games in Moscow.
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