#174 ‘Palestinian swimmer beats all odds’

Palestinian Zakia Nassar is a true Olympian at heart and she deserves a gold medal for her spirit and valor…indeed she has fulfilled her Olympic dream.

I lifted this from chinadaily.com.cn…

A 21-year-old Palestinian swimmer embodied  the Olympic spirit and fulfilled her lifelong ambition to compete at the Olympics last week and she deserves a gold medal for her tenacity.

Zakia Nassar had neither a coach nor access to an Olympic-sized pool for the past year but didn’t let that stop her.

Nassar, who is currently studying dentistry, had no option but to train on her own at a 12m public pool.

The coach Nassar had a year ago left her to her own devices when the 25m pool in Bethlehem was closed down.

“There is no pool in Jenin where I am studying,” she said.

“So I can swim only once or twice a month when I go back to my parents’ home in Bethlehem.”

There is a 50m pool in nearby Nazareth, but the Israeli government does not permit her to use it.

Nassar said it was often embarrassing trying to train at the public pool, with other people swimming and splashing around.

“Sometimes people cut across me, and others would get angry when I swam into them. But quite a few made way for me,” she said.

“I got so depressed sometimes I couldn’t help crying, but my parents and friends encouraged me, reminding me that I had to keep training if I really wanted to go to the Olympics.”

It was only when Nassar arrived in China a month ago that she finally got the opportunity to swim in a 50m pool and enjoy the benefits of having a coach.

When she at last took part in the Games, she swam the 50 m in 31.97 seconds, an improvement of 7 seconds on her personal best.

Despite her time being good enough only for 79th place, Nassar said it was “the most beautiful moment” of her life.

“Participating in a race at the Olympics was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.

“It felt like I was flying.”

But she is not sure if she will go to the next Olympics.

“I won’t compete unless I’ve done the right training. But as swimming is in my soul, I’ll probably be a coach in my spare time.”

 

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#169 veteran swimmer

The swimmer whom I have been looking out for is Dara Torres who continues competitive swimming at the age of 41, won the silver medal in 50m freestyle at the Olympics losing out to a much younger German Britta Steffen.

Dara Torres returned to competitive swimming in year 2000 after 8 years of retirement. One of her secret weapons was resistance stretching invented by Bob Cooley — the flexibility regiment. 

For her, age is just a number and not cap limit on one’s dream and aspiration. She has set precedence for women to remain in competitive swimming inspite of age and family responsibilities. She has a 15-month-old baby and receiving quality time training for the Olympics.

She has helped the world to realise that quality training is more important…