Alexandra Gerasimenya’s medal swim

50m freestyle sees Belarusian clock 24.11 seconds, to set new record for Belarus

50m freestyle sees Belarusian clock 24.11 seconds, to set new record for Belarus

Following in the footsteps of our silver weight lifters, Darya Naumova and Vadim Streltsov, and our first Rio gold medal from Vladislav Goncharov, Alexandra Gerasimenya, has claimed bronze. While some might not think it comparable to gold, the 50m freestyle swim has allowed Alexandra to set a new Belarusian record: a truly emotional moment that will keep fans talking for some time to come.

Olympic bronze not insignificant

“It was more difficult to me to achieve this medal than my two silver awards in London,” noted Ms. Gerasimenya, speaking after her performance. “With the unsuccessful performance of our team in Rio, it was very difficult for me to focus for this last, decisive, swim. However, I reminded myself that those who can swim faster don’t always win. Those who win are steady and persistent. I decided to win through determination. I hope that, now, the accent will be placed correctly.”

You could have missed the finals… What were you thinking about before the semi-finals, when you were in a bus that lost its way and was circling the city?

We spent 90 minutes on the bus but managed to telephone the organisers, explaining the situation, and they delayed the race. I wasn’t nervous and didn’t swear, especially as the driver didn’t know English. As I couldn’t change the situation, I tried to concentrate and remain calm, reading a book.

What did your teammate tell you before the final swim?

‘Be yourself’; probably, it was the best strategy.

From an emotional point of view, this ‘snatched’ bronze can be compared with your London silver, can’t it?

It was more difficult to me to achieve this medal… As far as the emotional side is concerned, I wanted gold and it was very close. It was so close that the decisive factor was luck rather than anything else. Actually, I haven’t completely realised yet that I have a medal. Probably, as in London, I need several days or, even, weeks to completely understand and recognise it.

Nevertheless, you’ve managed to improve your semi-final result and set a new national record! Such acceleration can’t be explained by luck alone!

I’m so glad that I managed to do this, rewriting my London result. Probably, this is some kind of consolation prize after all the emotional stress and trouble.

By Nikolay Sovrasov
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