2013 World Champs - Day 2
By Alice McAlpine of The Reporters’ Academy UK
Day 2 was the turn of the women as Evelina Afoa (Samoa) and Barbara Vali – Skelton (Papua new Guinea) who proudly stepped up to the blocks to represent their island nations.
A healthy crowd was in place as Evelina stepped onto the blocks in the first heat of the morning which was the 100m Backstroke. Evelina Afoa finished in a time of 1:09:11, just 0.09 seconds outside of her qualifying time.
The young Samoan swimmer, just 14, whose first international swim meet was last year at the Oceania Swimming Championships in Noumea, New Caledonia, appeared overwhelmed with emotion when explaining what competing in the World Championships, as well as representing her Samoan heritage, means to her:
“It means representing who I am, the country and achieving a lifelong dream…I can’t describe it.”
Evelina will also be competing in the 50m Backstroke on Wednesday, and is hoping for a PB.
“I think my 50’s stronger than my 100, so I’m excited to see where I’m at with the training for the 50m… My race plan is to go hard from the beginning.”
It was a morning for youth as next up was a very proud Barbara Vali-Skelton of Papua New Guinea. Just shy of 16 years of age the girl who hails from Port Moresby belied her years as she swam confidently in front of the watching crowd and media from around the world. As she explained immediately afterwards;
“It was really nerve wracking but exciting. I went to Turkey last year (World 25m Championships) but am now not as nervous”
Barbara posted a personal best time of 1 minute 16.03 seconds, an impressive start. A feature so far of this championship has been the impressive reaction times off the blocks of a number of island swimmers, which Barbara continued, posting a time in the top 10 of all the 60 swimmers. Despite her best mark, the first half of the race was an area that Barbara was conscious of:
“I’m happy with that (the PB). My plan was to go long for the first 50, but I went out a little too hard I think. My coach will probably tell me that I should be trusting my long stroke and not rushing it – but I think he will have been happy with it”
Barbara was keen to emphasize the importance and pride in representing her country.
“I wasn’t expecting it (being interviewed). Normally I just run past! There’s a lot of pressure making sure you represent your family and your country really well, but it’s really good.”