The Swedish great missed out on qualifying for a spot on her country’s 4×100 freestyle relay team when she was beaten by an Indian swimmer less than half her age.
Therese Alshammar’s attempt to become the first swimmer to compete in seven Olympics ended Saturday less than a month before the Tokyo Games.
The Swedish great missed out on qualifying for a spot on her country’s 4×100 freestyle relay team when she was beaten by an Indian swimmer less than half her age in a two-woman heat at the Seven Hills meet.
The 43-year-old Alshammar touched in 57.99 seconds — about two seconds slower than she needed in the 100 free.
Under a searing Roman sun in a half-empty outdoor arena, Northwestern University athlete Kenisha Gupta won the heat in 57.35.
“It was harder than I imagined,” Alshammar told The Associated Press. “If you want to race good you have to practice often. And this year with the (pandemic) it’s been a different year.”
A mother of two, Alshammar decided to make a comeback at the start of the year after having retired in 2016.
“Because of the different year, I trained more but also racing was much harder,” she said. “There was not many competitions to find. And I was never good at the 100 in the last part of my career. So the 100 hurts more than I could remember. Even today — coming out was OK; coming home was terribly hard.”
Alshammar remains the only female swimmer to have competed in six Olympics (from 1996 to 2016). Two men have also achieved the feat: Derya Büyükuncu of Turkey and Lars Frölander of Sweden (both from 1992-2012).
Alshammar won two silver medals (in the 50 and 100 free) and a bronze (4×100 free relay) at the 2000 Sydney Games. She also won eight medals at the world championships over her career.
Alshammar will compete in the 50 free on Sunday to conclude her career. She is not attempting to qualify in that event.
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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf