Trying on silver but dreaming of gold
Alexandra Gerasimenya has won two Olympic medals in London for her swimming although, a few weeks ago, only she herself and her coach, Yelena Klimova, may have believed it possible. In fact, in the entire independent history of Belarusian swimming, she is the first to win an Olympic medal. None of our swimmers have even come close, presenting no threat to their rivals. This may be why no one believed in Gerasimenya; there have been no swimming world champions, particularly in the prestigious 100m freestyle event, in the history of Belarusian swimming… prior to Alexandra.
The qualifying heats of the Olympic tournament saw her end 7th, which didn’t inspire confidence. Of course, even a few hundredths of a second can be crucial! Her less than impressive performance in the qualifying round left her to take the 8th lane in the final but many were delighted simply to see her taking part. Alexandra had her own opinion, actually creating a new national record for her swim: 53.38 seconds. Afterwards, discussing her silver medal success, she seemed almost upset and discouraged, as she felt she had misjudged her stamina. Dutch Ranomi Kromowidjojo managed to spurt powerfully ahead in the final 20m, snatching gold from Gerasimenya, who sped along from the very start and lead for most of the race. However, she failed to leave enough reserves for final acceleration. She sighed, “Yes, I’m a little upset. Of course, I wanted gold. It was possible but I didn’t manage it. I’m not sure what happened, as I know that I’m the fastest and could catch my rivals.”
She soon had the chance to prove herself again — in the 50m freestyle. She set another national record but once more had to be content with silver, as Ms. Kromowidjojo again claimed gold. Her rival set off like a torpedo and, perhaps, only Gerasimenya could have caught her. Alas, the Belarusian was slightly delayed on the starting signal, and it is impossible to win back such time over the shortest of Olympic distances. Naturally, there are two sides to the coin; there wouldn’t have been a beautiful finishing spurt without a starting hitch.
In London, Ms. Gerasimenya won two silver medals over two days, becoming the most titled swimmer in the history of Belarusian sport. In comparison, the whole Russian team has won two swimming medals, despite being considered a favourite at the current Olympics. Nevertheless, she leaves the capital of the United Kingdom with mixed feelings, having lost both times to Dutch Ranomi Kromowidjojo. It seems impossible to compete with this phenomenal swimmer at present but, knowing our Alexandra, her goal will be to beat her Dutch rival — perhaps in four years at Olympic Rio de Janeiro...
“I don’t create idols,” she asserts. “Some people’s achievements are impressive, so I want to equal them. Michael Phelps won the Olympic gold 18 times but I still don’t idolise him. I’ll just try to swim even faster. In the near future, I plan to swim at the European Championship, maybe even at the World Championship. Then, I’ll take a short break, as I want to finish my degree at the Belarusian State Economic University, becoming an economist-manager. I should have graduated this year but postponed due to training for the Olympics. Now, I’ll have the chance to complete my studies.”