Ten-year-old set to race at world cham­pi­onships

The China Post - - SPORTS -

The world swimming cham­pi­onships’ youngest com­peti­tor is set to make a con­tro­ver­sial splash in the Kazan pool on Fri­day when tenyear-old Alzain Tareq races in the women’s 50-me­ter freestyle heats.

The school­girl from Bahrain says she will not “fear any­thing or any­body” when she takes part in the freestyle sprint or Satur­day’s 50-me­ter but­ter­fly heats.

Age is no re­stric­tion for the swimming sec­tion of the world aquatic cham­pi­onships where rac­ers qual­ify from their coun­try’s na­tional tri­als.

De­spite her ten­der years, Tareq is the fastest fe­male swim­mer in her Mid­dle Eastern coun­try and her fa­ther funds her trav­els to com­pete.

She trains five days a week, twice a day, in the morn­ings and the evenings, fit­ting her ses­sions around her school­work and her fa­vorite sub­ject is math.

Her par­ents, es­pe­cially her fa­ther who is a for­mer pro swim­mer, have been en­cour­ag­ing her to com­pete since she was seven.

De­spite her self-con­fi­dence, her times do not sug­gest a fair fight on the world stage.

Her qual­i­fy­ing time of 41.12 sec­onds in the 50-me­ter but­ter­fly is dwarfed by the world record of 24.43 sec­onds, set by Swe­den’s Sarah Sjostrom which could well fall.

All four ri­vals in her open­ing heat on Fri­day have swum nearly 10 sec­onds faster and her young age has drawn con­cerns in Kazan, where she is sure to get a lot of media at­ten­tion when she races.

While Ply­mouth-based breast­stro­ker Ruta Meilu­tyte and United States freestyle-spe­cial­ist Katie Ledecky both won Olympic ti­tles aged just 15 at the 2012 Lon­don Games, Tareq is not even a teenager.

Ger­many’s for­mer 200-me­ter freestyle cham­pion Franziska van Alm­sick has ques­tioned whether Tareq should be al­lowed to com­pete while still so young.

“I would have thought there would be an age limit, be­cause I was not al­lowed to race at the world cham­pi­onships in Perth in 1991 when I was only 13,” she told Ger­man daily Bild.

“I was al­lowed to start in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and I think 14 is a good age for it.”

AP

Ten-year-old Alzain Tareq, of Bahrain, waits for the start be­fore com­pet­ing in a women’s 50-me­ter but­ter­fly heat at the Swimming World Cham­pi­onships in Kazan, Rus­sia, Fri­day, Aug. 7.

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