Gaurika Singh the youngest Olympian at Rio 2016Nepal’s swimming sensation Gaurika Singh will be the youngest athlete at the Olympic Games which take place in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro from August 5-21.
Nepal’s swimming sensation Gaurika Singh will be the youngest athlete at the Olympic Games which take place in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro from August 5-21.
At 13 years and 235 days, the five-foot one-inch swimmer is the youngest among over 10,000 athletes competing at these Games, the official website of the Rio Olympics confirmed on Monday. She currently lives with her parents in Britain and studies in grade eight at Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls in Elstree, Hertfordshire.
“She’s special. It’s unbelievable that she’s the youngest Olympian in Rio and amazing how she copes with all the pressure,” the website quoted her father Paras, a urologist at Royal Free Hospital in London, as saying. Her mother, Garima a former SLC board topper, takes the responsibility of taking care of her training schedules.
For the holder of multiple national records in the pool, a wild card to compete in the Rio Games still came as a surprise for Singh.
“I wanted to go [to Rio] but wasn’t sure I’d be able to because I’d be too young,” she told the Post recently, during a training session at the Barnett Copthall Swimming Club in Mill Hill area of north-west London. “When I found out a month ago, it was a big shock.”
Expecting an Olympic medal may be a long shot, but she has set a target in Rio. “I am trying hard and like to break my own mark. I have a lot to do in Rio because the level there would be very high,” Singh told the Post recently during a training session at the Barnett Copthall Swimming Club in Mill Hill area of north-west London. She has been training eight to nine sessions a week at the club for the last four years.
Singh shot to fame at the 12th South Asian Games (SAG) in Guwahati, India earlier this year. She won a silver in 200m individual medley and bronze medals in 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke and 400m freestyle—all in new national record timings.
She has set sights to better her own national record of 1 minute 7.31 seconds when she enters the Olympic pool to compete in 100m backstroke heats on Sunday.
With a dozen national records under her belt, Singh’s British coach Rhys Gormley has set her a goal at the Games. In a short interview with the Post in London recently, he said he wanted to see Gaurika finish inside top 16 in Rio.
“She is just going [to Rio] for experience. She will surely break Nepal’s record. I expect her to make it 1:06 but needs to be down to 1:01 by the next Olympics and that is what we are aiming for,” he said. “And a gold medal at the next SAG is certainly within her reach.” Underscoring the young swimmer’s potential, coach Gormley said she has made the cut among the 24 best swimmers at the club.