Bovell swims for gold
By Newsday Staff Friday, August 3 2012
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Winning heat: George Bovell III after winning his preliminary heat in the 50-metre freestyle at the Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park London yesterday. He...
It has taken eight years but George Bovell III, bronze medallist in 2004, is back chasing gold after clinching a spot in today’s 50-metre freestyle final at the London Olympic Games.
The 29-year-old will splash off in lane five in the final at 3.09 pm, at the Aquatics Centre, Olympic Park, London, England.
He advanced to his second Olympic final yesterday with a second place finish in semi-final two of his pet event.
A lot has changed since the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece but remaining the same is Bovell’s hunger for Olympic glory and this nation’s pride and joy in seeing him compete against the world’s best.
Bars throughout the country are expected to be packed today while employees at work and sports enthusiasts at home will be glued to their television sets cheering on arguably TT’s greatest ever swimmer, willing him to a medal.
Bovell started in fine form yesterday, winning his preliminary heat in a time of 21.77 seconds to advance comfortably to the semi-finals. He was ahead of Anthony Ervin of the United States (21.83) and Andrey Grechin of Russia (22.09) who took the second and third spots respectively in the preliminary heat.
At about 2.35 pm, Bovell, strolling to the pool in a confident swagger while wearing a bright red hoodie, repeated his 21.77 effort to place second in the second semi-final and book his spot in today’s title race.
The TT swimmer led his competitors for about half the race but Brazil’s Bruno Fratus surged ahead late to take the top spot in 21.63 seconds while Florent Manaudou of France was third in 21.80 seconds.
In the first semi-final, Cullen Jones of the United States and Cesar Cielo of Brazil, the current World and Olympic record holder, shared first place with a time of 21.54 seconds each, while Anthony Ervin was third in 21.62 seconds.
On the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spain yesterday, a few fans were quietly optimistic that Bovell would be able to duplicate his performance of 2004 and claim an Olympic medal.
Marcus Rivers of St James commented, “I’m real glad for Bovell, he did well and I hope he can get a medal for TT.”
Gary Jaggesar noted, “Win, lose or draw, he did well. I just hope that he can do the country proud and put us on the medal table.”
And Gail Hosein from Tunapuna said, “I’m not a fan of swimming but, as a Trinidadian, I just wish him well today and may he do us proud.”
On Twitter, a number of persons extended good wishes to Bovell, including Minister of Legal Affairs and Congress of the People leader Prakash Ramadhar, who wrote, “George has done TT proud to date. Best of luck today.”
However, repeated efforts to get a comment from acting Sports Minister Jack Warner, were unsuccessful up to press time.
Bovell is coached by Sports Minister Anil Roberts and Mike Bottom of the University of Michigan.
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar praised Bovell for advancing to today’s final when she was informed about his successful semi-final performance while addressing an Emancipation luncheon at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s. As she announced Bovell “placed second in the semis”, the audience applauded lustily.
Addressing the post-Cabinet media briefing, Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Communication Minister Jamal Mohammed said Cabinet has taken note of TT’s participation in the Olympics in London and swimmer George Bovell III who did “exceedingly well” in the 50 metre freestyle. He extended best wishes to all of TT’s other athletes.