Sarah Sjostrom receives the Olympic Resilience Award after her comeback to win silver
(From September Swimming World magazine)
Despite a broken elbow in February and an operation that used screws and a metal plate, Sweden Sarah Sjöstrom five months later was not only able to compete in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but also won a silver medal in the 50 meter freestyle on the last day of the competition.
Early February, Sarah Sjostroms Preparing for her fourth Olympics failed when she slipped on the ice and broke her elbow. She underwent immediate surgery and screws and a metal plate were inserted, but Sjostrom was expected to be out of the pool for months while she tried to fully recover. When she returned to the pool, Sjostrom only had a few months to go to the Tokyo Games.
Sjostrom won her first three Olympic medals at the 2016 Olympic Games (gold in the 100 flyer, silver in the 200 freewheel and bronze in the 100 freewheel). ) in the 50 free, 50 flies and 100 flies. She had the greatest success of her flying career, but given the circumstances of her injury, she suggested focusing on sprinting freestyle for Tokyo and possibly even avoiding the opportunity to defend her 100-flying Olympic title from 2016.
Sjostrom’s race plan for 2021 before the Games was incredibly easy: the Mare Nostrum meeting in Canet at the beginning of June, followed by the Sette Colli meeting in Rome a few months later. It turned out that was enough, and Sjostrom decided to take part in all three of their signature events at the Olympics, 100 Butterfly, 100 Freestyle and 50 Freestyle. She held the world records in all three races, although no one expected her to be at this level so close to her injury.
When Sjostrom showed up in Tokyo, she wasn’t perfect, but she did well for a swimmer who had been rehabilitating for months after an injury.
Sjostrom opened the Games with the 100-Fly, the race she was so insecure about and while lagging behind at the start, she came back at the closing speed that has been her trademark since her first world record at 15 to American Teenagers touching Torri Husk. Sjostrom’s time in that race was 56.18 and she looked completely shocked and excited when she looked at the scoreboard.
“Today I felt extremely strong and it was my best time in four years,” she said. “This is of course a big surprise after the preparations I’ve had over the past six months.”
On the first morning of the final, Sjostrom led Sweden’s 400 freestyle relay in 52.62, breaking the Olympic record of the time. She failed to improve on her 100 fly prelims time and finished seventh in the finals, but it was the freestyle events that Sjostrom targeted. A few days later, the 27-year-old Swede qualified for the 100th free final and was fifth in the fastest field in history in this race.
Nevertheless, Sjostrom remained without a medal in the last two days of the Olympic Games and their last race, the 50s freestyle. She qualified fourth after the preliminary round and third after the semi-finals and then secured a silver medal in the final. Her time was 24.07, nowhere near her world record of 23.73, but that didn’t bother Sjostrom in the least. After three Olympic medals at the 2016 Rio Games, Sjostrom added a fourth, the least likely medal she has won in her long international career.
“This is one of my greatest successes in my career. I’ve won a lot of medals and broken a lot of world records, but that was the toughest challenge so far, ”said Sjostrom. “We didn’t know if I would make it to the podium – we just thought, ‘Maybe a final if I can.’ It was a really tough road, but it definitely made me even tougher as an athlete. “
For this breathtaking performance, Sjostrom was undoubtedly the toughest swimmer in the pool in Tokyo.