A full-fledged Nepali at heart, swimmer Gaurika Singh is the youngest competitor at the Rio Olympics.
Gaurika Singh, 13, was born in Nepal but moved to London at the age of two. “I’m Nepalese, I’m not English or anything else,” Singh had told reporters in Brisbane. She will make her Olympic debut on Sunday’s (August 7) 100m backstroke preliminary.
“That’s quite cool, a bit unreal too,” Singh told reporters, having just competed in her local district championships for her school in Hertfordshire.
Incidentally, Gaurika was in Nepal during the devastating April 2015 earthquake. She was in the country to compete in a national championship event along with her mother Garima and little brother Sauren.
“It was terrifying,” she said. “We were on the fifth floor of a building (in the capital Kathmandu) that we could not escape from, so we sheltered under a table for 10 minutes in the middle of the room and had to go down the stairs afterwards amid the aftershocks.
“Fortunately, it was a new building so it did not collapse like others around,” Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying.
Singh started to compete in the Nepal championships at the age of 11. In one of Kathmandu’ s two 50-metre pools, she broke seven national records, prompting thoughts that she might make the Olympics.
“I wanted to go but was not sure I would be able to because I would be too young,” She said, adding, “When I found out a month ago, it was a big shock.”
Her father Paras believes his daughter, who gets up at 4.00 a.m. each day to train, deserves her success.
“She is special,” he said. “It is unbelievable that she is the youngest Olympian in Rio and amazing how she copes with all the pressure,” Xinhua news agency quoted her as saying.
“My dad is coming with me to Rio, and my grandparents and friends at school are really proud but they are really good at their own things,” Singh said.
Nepal is still waiting for its first Olympic medal since first participating in 1964 major sporting event in Tokyo.
The people of Nepal showed their utmost support for Gaurika on Twitter:
— Dinesh(हिटलर) (@dineshpradhan71) August 6, 2016
— NorthEast Today (@NorthEastToday) August 2, 2016
— subrat acharya (@AcharyaSubratt) July 31, 2016
(With inputs from IANS and Agencies)