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Finish line?

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Finish line?

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LONDON – Visibly disappointed after his first swim yesterday morning at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Bradley Ally seemed almost resigned and hinted that the end of his career might be drawing near.
Ally won the first heat of the first event on the swimming programme at the spanking new Aquatic Centre, clocking 4 minutes 21.32 seconds.
Drawn in lane five, he led at every turn of the eight-lap event, and although knocking almost three seconds off his qualifying time of 4:24.06, it was not enough to get him a second swim in last night’s final.
He will swim the 100 metres backstroke today at 11:03 a.m. (6:03 a.m. Barbados time).
“I have to sit down and talk to my coach, but personally, I am just going out there to have fun, just to enjoy myself. I am not trying to take it too serious,” Ally told SUNSPORT in an interview after the race.
The tone was quite unlike Ally who always seems upbeat and optimistic.
Is this his final Olympic Games?
“I don’t think people understand how hard it is to train and dedicate. This is my third Olympics, not like it is my first. I have been swimming since I was four years old, so it is fair to say if I want to retire I could retire on a high note because I’ve been to three Olympics and I am pretty contented with where my career has gone,” he said.
The 25-year-old finished 25th out of 37 starters and was about seven seconds off his national record of 4:14.01.
The lead had stretched to more than two body lengths by the time he started the freestyle leg, but it was clear from the splits that his time would not be fast enough.
“I am a little bit disappointed with the race but I am not really trying to think about that right now. I am just thankful to be at the Olympics,” Ally said.
“I am just glad, just trying to take in everything, soak up everything at the Olympics [because] not a lot of people get to go to the Olympics and experience the other stuff that everybody here does.”
Ally was not sure where the race broke down. He fell off the pace although he finished nearly four seconds and six places ahead of Anton McKee (4:25.06) of Iceland.
“After part of the breaststroke leg, I was a little tired and the legs weren’t working as they were supposed to. It is just something I have to sit down with the coaches and discuss it further if we are going to make some changes in the races to come.”
Ally had returned to Barbados at the end of last year to train with local coach Abdul Sharif, only to discover he was ill and had to seek treatment overseas.
“I had a bit of adrenal fatigue problems and I was trying to get that fixed because swimming is such a gruelling sport. You hardly take any time off,” he said.
“So I decided to get that fixed and go off to Michigan, great training crew there, great training programme. I just ended up and there and started training for Olympics there.”
Although Kosuke Hagino, of Japan, had the fastest qualifying time of 4:10.01, the final was expected to be a straight contest between Americans Ryan Lochte (4:12.35) and world record holder and defending Olympic champion Michael Phelps (4:13.33) who was the last qualifier.
Coach Josh White will have to get Ally prepared to hit the water again today and he is once again in the first heat.
Ally holds eight national records, including the seed time of 55.88 seconds in the 100 metres backstroke. The seed time is the fastest time he obtained in the past for this event. This time determined who he will compete against, the heat and the lane.
Also swimming in the same event will be Trinidadian George Bovell, while Danielle Beaubrun, of St Lucia, and Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson will compete in the women’s breaststroke.