JASMINE ALKHALDI giggled a lot when asked what to expect from her when she competes in one of seven heats in the 100-meter freestyle on Wednesday morning in the 30th Olympic Games.
Maybe that’s Jasmine way of saying that her chances are as grey as the London skies.
“It’s soooooo tough,” said Jasmine a little louder, drawing attention from some athletes a table away as fellow swimmer Jessie Lacuna, coach Pinky Brosas, Team Philippines chief of mission Manny Lopez and administrative officer Arsenic Lacson laughed.
The 19-year-old Pinay swimmer, who took up the sport when she was only three, sees action in the third heat against Mylene Ong of Singapore, Nastja Govejsek of Slovenia, Ester Dara of Hungary, Liliana Lopez of Mexico, Karen Torres of Bolivia and Cielia Tini of Mauritius, with none of them expected to go beyond the qualifying heats.
“I just told her to go for her personal best and have fun,” said Brosas. “The depth of the field is just overwhelming.”
Her personal best in the event is 56.92 seconds, too slow compared to the 53.12 which Germany’s Britta Steffen set in winning the event in the Beijing Games. Back to defend her title, Steffen races in the sixth heat where four other entries have a qualifying time of 53.05 seconds or better.
The other swimmer to watch is Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands who comes in carrying a personal best of 52.75 seconds which she set only last April.
An incoming junior at the University of Hawaii, Alkhaldi practiced for one last time on Tuesday morning, excited and ready to compete and have fun.
Two days ago, Lacuna swam in one of the heats in the 200-meter freestyle. As expected, he didn’t make it to the semifinals, his time of 1:52.91 seconds emerging as 36th best among 40 entries as he became the first casualty in the 11-man Team Philippines.