Adam Peaty set an early benchmark but home hope Daiya Seto suffered a shock on a busy first day of swimming at Tokyo 2020, one that saw Australian duo Brendon Smith and Emma McKeon shine.

Peaty is aiming to become the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title having taken gold at Rio 2016, while Seto made an inauspicious start to the Games.

Here is a round-up from Saturday's opening heats at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

EASY PEATY! RECORD HOLDER SAFELY THROUGH

Peaty has not been beaten in a 100m breaststroke race since 2014 and is aiming to lower his own record time of 56.88 seconds, which was set at the World Championships two years ago.

The dominant 26-year-old posted a 57.56 in a solid start to his Games, qualifying fastest ahead of Dutch rival Arno Kamminga (57.80). 

Peaty produced the eighth fastest time in history, while Kamminga set a Dutch record and is the only other swimmer who has broken 58 seconds in the event.

 

WOE FOR SETO AS SMITH STARS

These Games were meant to be about redemption for home medal hope Seto, the bronze medallist in a men's 400m individual medley race won by compatriot Kosuke Hagino four years ago.

Seto was the favourite in the race and seeking to atone after being barred last year after his involvement in an extramarital affair. He won world gold in the 400IM two years ago, but he sensationally failed to make it out of the heats at these delayed Olympics.

Seto, who returns to the pool next in the 200m butterfly on Monday, said: "It hurts and I'm frustrated at myself. It's my mistake and I have to owe up to it. What's done is done and not a whole lot I can do about it."

By contrast, it was Smith who qualified fastest, clocking a 4:09.27 to set a new Australian and Oceanic record. New Zealander Lewis Clareburt was second quickest, winning a tight third heat over 2016 silver medallist Chase Kalisz.

Smith's compatriots Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin both made it through the men's 400m freestyle, with Germany's Henning Muhlleitner (3:43.67) fastest, just ahead of Austrian Felix Auboeck (3:43.91).

MCKEON, ZHANG SET THE MARK

There was more Aussie promise in the women's 100m butterfly – a seemingly wide-open event with three competitors having gone under 56 seconds this year.

McKeon – a winner of four medals in Rio, including relay gold in the 4x100m – and China's Zhang Yufei were two of those to achieve the feat and both recorded a 55.82 to top the timesheets in the heats, the former setting an Australian record for good measure.

Sarah Sjostrom, who holds the world record, was not even certain to race in this event after fracturing her elbow earlier this year, but posted an impressive 56.18 to go third quickest. The Swede was ahead of American Torri Huske (56.29), the third woman who has gone under 56 seconds this year.

Australia were also dominant in the women's 4x100m freestyle, their time of 3:31.73 almost two seconds better than the Netherlands.

Teenager Emma Weyant bettered her personal best with a 4:33.55 to comfortably post the best time in the women's 400 individual medley prelims. The 19-year-old - a winner at the U.S. Olympic trials - was almost two seconds quicker than Great Britain's Aimee Willmott (4:35.28).

The quarantine experience has become routine for those travelling the world to play or watch sport during the coronavirus crisis.

It has been that way in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics. Depending on which country you arrive from, there may be a period of isolation to tolerate before being allowed to participate in the Games.

This has been the case for Stats Perform's journalist on the ground, Peter Hanson, who is approaching the end of a three-day quarantine at his hotel in order to comply with the rules for UK residents working in a media capacity in the Japanese capital.

Here, he provides five tips on how to survive quarantine…

Tip 1: Binge on Netflix

Admittedly this isn't a particularly novel idea but when you're pretty much confined to a hotel room for three days what better way to pass the time than with some easy watching?

It doesn't have to be Netflix…there are plenty of other streaming services available of course. But, right now I'm powering through the US version of The Office (even if that makes me feel a little traitorous towards the original UK edition, which – sorry folks – remains the significantly better show).

Tip 2: Reading

It's good to come prepared. Having undertaken a 12-and-a-half-hour flight to get to Tokyo before the three days of isolation even began, having a good book (or even a bad one really) just made good sense.

I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben's work, so with me in Tokyo is his thriller 'The Boy in the Woods', and also a book about the world's greatest football team…Sheffield Wednesday, penned by Sheffield Star journalist Alex Miller.

Tip 3: Bring out the bangers…

Admittedly this tip comes on the back of a bit of a head loss…but when in the moment, you have to fully embrace it folks!

Crack on with your Spotify, your Apple Music, or wherever you get your tunes from and let the music take control! Friday's morning get-up song for me belonged to Ronan Keating because, well, life is a rollercoaster right now…

Tip 4: Sick tricks!

This one is inspired by one of my best friends back home, who will often yell "sick tricks!" before doing something pretty juvenile or a very basic skill with the confidence and gusto of a trapeze artist… and it gets a laugh from me pretty much every time.

Luckily, just before I left my house in Sheffield I spotted a tennis ball to take with me and – recalling the feats of skills posted by several ATP and WTA stars online during their own Australian Open quarantines – decided to have a go at some of my own tennis-ball tricks…it did not go particularly well.

Tip 5: Work, work, work...

No, not the Rihanna song... although playing that on repeat would absolutely be a great way to spend your time in quarantine.

What I'm alluding to is the fact that at some point during a three-day quarantine, some work will have to be done.

Only, in this case I got distracted by my Football Manager save and decided that was also a pretty decent way to kill some time…

Michael Phelps hailed Katie Ledecky as "the best female swimmer that we have ever seen" as the American looks to add to her haul of five Olympic golds in Tokyo.

Ledecky won the gold medal in the 800m freestyle race at London 2012 at the age of 15 and went on to scoop four golds in the Rio Games five years ago.

The 24-year-old will be aiming to defend her titles in the 200m, 400m and 800m individual freestyle races, as well as the 4x200m freestyle relay.

A new event has also been added in for the women at this year's Games, with the 1500m freestyle up for grabs.

Given her achievements so far, Ledecky may well have Phelps' all-time Olympic record of 23 gold medals in her sights.

Phelps, who also holds the record for the most gold medals in individual events (13) and Olympic medals in individual events (16), believes Ledecky already has to be considered one of the greats.

"Katie and I have known each other for a long time," the 36-year-old said in a Panasonic Instagram live interview. "She is hands down the best female swimmer that we've ever seen.

"I always say one thing for her is just be her. As long as she's being herself and preparing for what she has to do, everything else will happen how it's supposed to.

"She's somebody that understands what to do in this setting and she's going to go out there and have some fun and we're going to see a lot of fast times."

 

Phelps also suggested Ledecky, and other athletes competing for the top prizes in Tokyo, must go into "autopilot" in order to keep their composure when it counts.

He added: "You've done the hard work, now it's just time to let it all show.

"Go out there, have some smiles, have some laughs and perform.

"From [Athens] 2004 on, I feel I was almost on autopilot because the preparation was done. All I had to do was just get on the blocks and race."

Olympics great Marc Spitz believes Michael Phelps' record of 23 gold medals will be broken by a future swimming sensation.

For the first time since 2000, the Games will happen without Phelps as a factor in the pool, and it will be the likes of Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel who draw much of the global focus.

Phelps landed six golds at the Athens 2004 Games, then a record eight in Beijing four years later, surpassing Spitz's all-time best haul of seven in a single Olympics, which dated back to Munich in 1972.

Another four gold medals followed at London 2012, before Phelps signed off from the Olympics with five triumphs in 2016 at Rio.

"Records are made to be broken, a point in case being Michael breaking my record that took over 30 years to do. Stories will still continue to be written about athletes that will challenge those that came before them," Spitz said.

Spitz described Phelps' contribution as "overwhelming".

"I don't want to diminish the value of any one of Michael's medals, but the young swimmers are looking at that as a benchmark," Spitz said, speaking courtesy of Laureus.

"They shouldn't consider themselves a failure because they can't quite stay on a career for as long as he did. But someday, someone will break that record unless they change the sport of swimming where some of those events aren't competed in and they make the programme so it has less events.

"Michael took what I had done and concentrated on how he could make and create his own journey. That became the gold standard then.

"The reason people think maybe my seven gold medals were so great were that somebody actually challenged it and then broke that record. Michael’s record will go down in the same way and somebody else will be inspired by what he’s done."

 

According to Spitz, Tokyo 2020 is unlikely to see such feats achieved, but he highlighted freestyle and butterfly maestro Dressel as a swimmer capable of great things at the Aquatics Centre.

Dressel won two relay gold medals five years ago in Rio but topped the podium six times at the 2019 World Championships, including four individual wins.

Spitz also earmarked Ledecky, already a five-time Olympic champion, as another American swimmer who could enjoy a golden Games.

"From a swimming point of view, there's some outstanding names," Spitz told Stats Perform.

"Katie Ledecky comes to mind in women's swimming. She's going to go down as one of the greatest swimmers of all time. The margins of her victories are enormous, it's incredible, it's epic in some of these performances.

"She was there during the Michael Phelps era, and there's also Caeleb Dressel who is ... I don't want to say a replacement for Michael Phelps. He's his own man and rightfully so he should be.

"He's dominated the distances and the strokes he's participated in over the last number of years. There's other people from around the world that will give those two athletes certainly a run for their money.

"The point is that I think we won’t be void in the sport of swimming with names and stories to tell."

Duncan Scott intends to "control the controllables" at the Tokyo Olympics and has given no thought to repeating the anti-doping protest he made at the World Championships two years ago.

Team GB swimmer Scott made headlines in Gwangju when, after winning bronze in the 200 metres freestyle, he refused to share the podium with gold medal winner Sun Yang.

Sun, who previously served a three-month doping ban in 2014, was at the time subject to a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) case over a smashed vial during a drugs test. Last month CAS reduced an eight-year ban to four years backdated to May 2020, meaning he could potentially compete at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Following the podium snub, Sun reacted angrily to Scott and appeared to shout "you're a loser, I'm a winner" at this rival.

Scott insists his actions at the time were not personal and merely a message at promoting a clean sport, while his focus in the coming month is purely on affecting his own performance.

"I don't really know [if the situation has improved], obviously we've had COVID so there were no competitions in 2020," Scott, who collected two golds and three silvers at the rescheduled European Championships in May, told a round-table of journalists. 

"I would say since then I can only really control the controllables. I know that's so cliche but especially with COVID and with dates moving about it's made me think even less about things I can't influence. 

"I can't affect it so why should I bother about it? It's not something I've thought about to be honest.

"I think then, doing it and making that stance was for a purpose of clean sport it was nothing personal against anyone. And I think that was seen in the right way, several people have made their voices heard for those reasons.

"I think [fellow Team GB swimmer Adam] Peaty comes out and speaks about it well a lot, as a team-mate of his in different competitions I've got to back what he says and the way he puts it across I think is really well."

Several athletes voiced concerns at reduced drug testing during the height of the coronavirus pandemic – which caused a postponement of the Games – last year, but Scott added: "I can't control it, it's not something I think about. 

"If I perform at my best I'll be there or thereabouts. I did some nice drops at the trials and for me I've really just got to focus on myself.

"Swimming isn't like many team sports, you can't influence what someone does in the lane next to you, you've just got to focus on your own race."

Last month, Scott swapped the swimming cap for a graduation cap after receiving a 2:1 in Business and Sports Studies at the University of Stirling.

Scott, who is dyslexic, said he may revisit his studies further down the line, but for now is focused on his goals in the pool.

"Personally, I found it really challenging, as not much of a school person at all I found that really difficult so to be able to do a degree in itself and be offered a place was great, and I thought I may as well while I'm swimming," he added.

"I think halfway through my second year I was like I need to try and sort something out with the uni I'm finding this really difficult to manage. And the uni were great, I did my first two years full-time, then split third and fourth year up. 

"I would have actually finished in 2020 but decided to take January to June out, I was like the Olympics [are happening] I'll take that out – never happened! 

"I did really enjoy it, I found it really challenging which I think potentially was a really good thing. Being dyslexic and not really enjoying school too much and being stuck in a classroom I'm really proud of the fact I was able to get a 2:1. 

"It may be something I go back to and potentially do a Masters but I can't see that for a while. I'd like to do the next cycle and just focus on swimming – there are a lot of meets next year, with all the governing bodies not really talking to each other you've got Europeans, commies [Commonwealth Games] and Worlds all next year, I was just delighted to finish it to be honest."

Scott, who won two silver relay medals at Rio 2016, says he takes inspiration from some of Scotland's finest competitors, such as cycling legend Chris Hoy and tennis great Andy Murray as he aims to earn more accolades in Tokyo.

"I don't really know them, I say I sort of still look up to many of them, I wouldn't put myself in the same bracket at all," he said.

"Personally, I used to look up a lot to – not that I don't anymore it sounds bad – but Chris Hoy for example, and the way Murray conducts himself on and off the tennis court I think is phenomenal. 

"I find it inspiring the way he still plays and people ask why he still competes and he says he just enjoys the hard work, that's quite refreshing to hear."

Sport has a nasty habit of chewing up and spitting out even the most elite of athletes, so the idea of any competitor being a shoo-in for Olympic gold at Tokyo 2020 may seem a little silly.

But, and whisper this quietly, Adam Peaty is about as close to a certainty to sit atop the podium in the Japanese capital as you can get, such has been his utter dominance of the 100 metres breaststroke.

Four years ago, Peaty was one of the posterboys of Great Britain's success at the Rio Olympics, breaking the world record en route to winning gold.

Since then, he has beaten his own benchmark twice including going under 57 seconds at the World Championships in Gwangju two years ago. Indeed, he is remarkably in possession of the 20 fastest times ever recorded in the event.

It would be an almighty high horse from which to fall but a laser-focused Peaty is convinced Tokyo is not the time the tide will turn on his fortunes.

"I don't know I guess it's just a by-product of what I've done for the last seven years," Peaty told a round-table of journalists during a pre-Games Team GB camp.

"I think if you're as dominant as I have been, without trying to sound arrogant, you come to a realistic fact I haven't lost a championship in the 100m in a long time. 

"It's kind of nice to go into the Games knowing I've got that and obviously I have the heritage of what have I done and a history of performing when it matters. I think going into these Games I'm the most liberated I have ever been.

"Let's hope that lightning strike doesn't hit me but sport is sport, it can happen - anything can happen in sport, we all know that and sometimes the greats do fall. I believe this Olympics isn't my time yet so I think it's going to be a good one."

 

Pressure can do funny things to an athlete and there is no more pressurised environment than an Olympic Games.

But Peaty's confidence is not misplaced. Over the past seven years, the now 26-year-old has been untouchable in his speciality.

In an ominous sign for his rivals, Peaty appears more serene than ever as he aims to become the first British swimmer to defend an Olympic title thanks to a mix of becoming a father to his son George – now 10 months old – and the ability to take stock of what is important after over a year and a half of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic that so nearly curtailed these Olympics altogether.

Asked if being a father is part of what has helped him feel so liberated, Peaty replied: "I think so.

"And I think lockdown last year gave me that kind of a second wind, I always felt like I was charging, charging, charging. Now I can switch off very easily. 

"It might be to do with having a kid. I feel like I've got more energy when I come to a holding camp because I haven't got a kid screaming, or a kid to feed or a kid to hold. 

"But also I think it is having a bit more maturity, I've grown up more in this last year than I have in the last six years. I think if you look at a picture of me from Rio and a picture now it's like I've had 10 kids!

"I've had a bit of a face change, but that's part and parcel of it as you do get older and become a better athlete and more experienced athlete, these environments become a lot easier and you know what it feels like to bring a gold medal home to the country so it's a good position to be in."

The struggles so many have endured due to the proliferation of COVID-19 has only added fuel to the fire for Peaty, who is determined to inspire a new generation into the pool.

"I think going into these Games next week, no British swimmer has ever defended an Olympic title. That's something in the back of my mind but it's not a distraction. And obviously, every Olympics I want to inspire as many people as possible back home," he said.

"Especially this year when people have been through such a rough time, we can show that just because we have been through that doesn't mean we have to stand still or retreat, or take a step backwards, we can always go through that adversity with a bit of British humour and say 'you know what let's have this one' and take it on the chin really. 

"That pure passion and inspiration just comes naturally to me and hopefully when people wake up in the morning I can show I have done that."

 

One thing all athletes will miss this year is the roar of the crowd and the adrenaline rush received from that wall of noise.

Organisers decided no spectators can be in attendance at venues in Tokyo due to the fear of the spread of coronavirus.

Peaty acknowledges it is a shame to lose that part of the spectacle but is used to racing in the absence of spectators by now.

"It's definitely going to take something out of the arena, no one likes to perform without fans - it does feel a little bit eerie," he said.

"But you've always got to acknowledge millions of people around the world watch it on TV, so I think mentally it's probably one of the toughest arenas to race in because they get such a high off the crowd. 

"Also, I think it's an opportunity for other people who are scared of the crowd, so these Olympics are going to be a bit different in terms of psychology and performance psychology especially.

"For me I'm going to make sure I'm in the most optimal mindset – I've been racing without crowds now for a year, I've still broken world records without the crowd and yeah we'll just see how it goes. Obviously you want people there to witness history."

There has been much-publicised opposition to the Games from within Japan and plenty of scepticism from others too about the decision to go ahead during a pandemic.

Peaty is philosophical, though, saying: "It's quite a hard question, obviously you have to think about normal people who do live here. 

"But at the opposite end of the spectrum you've got to have the realisation and respect athletes have trained every single day for five years, getting up at 5am, going to bed at half 10 with a screaming baby!

"They commit their whole lives to this three-week event, so you're never going to get the right answer. You have to look at it - if you sat everyone around a table, everyone would have an opinion."

The Games will begin and history is within reach. So, what does the man himself think makes him so brilliant at this craft?

"It sounds very cliche but I'm very obsessed with continual improvement and pushing the boundaries of what's possible," he said. 

"I don't want to end my career and go 'oh I could have done that or I should have done this'. It's that relationship with the team that makes me that person. But I think it's also I just love to race, I love to scrap and I like to dominate. That's why I swim, that's why I race it gives me something I can't get in normal life. 

"Also I spoke to my performance psychologist, my mind I see it almost as a landscape because he was talking about levels and you go this level, you have elite levels and possibly some of the best athletes ever born. 

"But I don't see it as levels anymore, it's just too linear to think of it like that you have to think of it as a landscape – some days you've just got to attack the f*****g mountain, that's as simple as it is.

"You've got to go, you've got to work hard, you've got to go out there with that option. But also I need a pint at the weekend sometimes to calm me down. That's going back into the valley, almost a strategic withdrawal from my training.

"I think that balance has given me so much more this year that I didn't even know existed. Lockdown has obviously been awful for everyone, but also I think it's given me that extra edge of what matters and what does work and doesn't work either."

And another world record sure would be nice, wouldn't it?

"A world record at this stage is obviously very, very hard but never impossible," he conceded.

"It's within my reach if I get my preparation right this next seven days. Obviously I'll see how the heats goes, the semi-finals goes and can kind of take it from there."

The sporting calendar provides many memorable days throughout the year but rarely do elite events overlap as often as at the Olympics.

At this year's delayed Tokyo Games, there is the prospect of seeing several of the world's top athletes all competing for gold at the same time.

August 1 looks a good bet for the standout day in 2021.

The final round of the men's golf event could see Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm in the mix, with Andy Murray hopeful he will meanwhile be defending consecutive singles gold medals in the tennis.

This comes on the same day that Simone Biles could potentially become the most decorated Olympic gymnast of all time.

As if that were not enough, the men's 100m final is another must-watch event.

Expectations will be high heading into that second Sunday of the Games, with examples from the past three competitions living up to their billing...

AUGUST 16, BEIJING 2008

Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt would be firmly in contention to appear on the Games' own Mount Rushmore and each enjoyed one of the finest moments of their respective careers on the same day.

Phelps had spent the opening week of the Beijing Olympics pursuing Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven golds and had six as he entered the pool again for the 100m butterfly final, almost 12 hours before Bolt's big moment.

Seventh at the turn, the United States superstar needed a remarkable recovery to triumph over a devastated Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds.

Phelps would pass Spitz with his eighth gold of the Games the following day, by which point he was sharing the headlines with Jamaica's own ultimate athlete.

Bolt's blistering 9.69-second final triumph in the 100m stood as a world record until the same man beat it exactly a year later. The new benchmark remains unmatched.

And that Saturday in China also saw the small matter of Roger Federer's only gold medal, claimed alongside Stan Wawrinka in the doubles final after falling to James Blake as the top seed in the singles.

AUGUST 4-5, LONDON 2012

It is actually tough to choose just one day from the 2012 Olympics, where this weekend delivered from start to finish.

On the Saturday evening, at the Aquatics Centre, swimming prepared to say goodbye to its greatest name. Phelps and the United States won the 4x100m medley, clinching his 18th gold medal in what appeared set to be his final race.

Indeed, Phelps confirmed his retirement following the Games, only to return in predictably dominant fashion in 2016.

Across the city that same night, Team GB athletes were capping a stunning run of medals that would see the day dubbed "Super Saturday". There were six home golds in all, including big wins for Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah in quick succession.

The drama only continued the next day, too, as Murray finally sealed a Wimbledon win over Roger Federer in the tennis event, while Bolt lit up London Stadium in the 100m.

AUGUST 14, RIO 2016

Although there will be no Bolt brilliance in Tokyo, Brazil was treated to another show as he became the first three-time winner of the 100m – later doing likewise in the 200m.

The first triumph was almost overshadowed on the track, however, coming shortly after Wayde van Niekerk had broken Michael Johnson's 17-year 400m world record by 0.15 seconds.

Again, the excitement was not reserved for athletics, with Murray in action that evening to claim another gold after coming through a four-hour epic against Juan Martin del Potro.

Murray is the only player – men's or women's – to win consecutive singles golds, while Rafael Nadal's presence added a little more stardust even though he lost the bronze final to Kei Nishikori.

A stunning Sunday also saw Biles add to the reputation she takes with her to Tokyo, a third gold on the vault making her the most decorated American gymnast.

And there was history, too, for Justin Rose, as he edged past Henrik Stenson at the 18th hole of the fourth round to become the first Olympic golf champion in 112 years.

Shaunae-Miller-Uibo, the 2016 Olympic 400m champion has been registered to run both the 200m and 400m this summer, despite an unfriendly schedule.

Sprint hurdler Shane Brathwaite and sprinter Mario Burke have been selected among an eight-member Barbados team to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan later this month.

Shane Brathwaite, who previously competed at the Olympic Games London 2012 and is current Pan-American Games champion in the men’s 110-metre hurdles event, will be joined by Tia-Adana Belle who is set to compete in the women’s 400-metre hurdles. This will be her second Olympic appearance.

Sprinters Tristan Evelyn and Burke will be making their debuts at this year’s Games along with 400-metre runner Johnathan Jones.

Also included in the team is the Jamaica-based, Sada Williams, who qualified for the 200 metres at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 but missed out due to an injury. Williams, on the weekend, ran 51.50 to finish second to American Kaylin Whitney in Italy, will contest the 400m.

Meanwhile, swimmers Alex Sobers, who will also be at the Olympics for a second time, and Danielle Titus, have also been named to the team.

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will run from July 23 to August 8.

Kirani James heads a six-member Grenada team to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

James, the 2012 Olympic champion, and Grenada’s first Olympic gold medalist is one of four track and field athletes named including 2019 World Champion Anderson Peters, Meleni Rodney, the 2014 Youth Olympics bronze medalist and veteran decathlete Linden Victor.

Two swimmers – Kimberly Ince (100m backstroke) and Delron Felix (100m freestyle) – have also been named to the team. The IOC awarded Grenada two wild card places for swimming.

The accompanying coaching staff will include, James’ coach Harvey Glance as well as throws coach Paul Phillip, decathlon coach Joshua Priester and pole vault coach Thomas Fitzsimon. Valencia Nathaly Sihera is the swimming coach.

Bermuda national swimming coach, Ben Smith, has criticised the Bermuda Olympic Association (BOA) for what amounts to rejecting a chance for two of the country’s swimmers to take part in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Games.

At current, no swimmer on the island has attained the Olympic standard, which would ordinarily be needed to compete in Tokyo later this year.  However, the International Swimming Federation, the federation authorised by the International Olympic Committee for administering international competitions, also typically offers smaller nations a chance to compete at the Games via the offer of universality places.

In order to qualify for the places, athletes typically have to have competed at the previous World Championships and gain FINA approval to compete.  The rule has, however, been amended this year to allow for athletes having competed at the previous World Championships or that have been approved by FINA to be selected.

Universality places are offered to one male and female athlete from the selected country and, according to reports, FINA offered places to Bermudan swimmers Jesse Washington and Madelyn Moore.  Both athletes represented the country at the 2019 World Aquatics Championships. 

Reports further indicate that Pedro Adrega, the Fina Olympic Games Swimming Entries Co-ordinator, twice wrote to the BOA indicating that the athletes had been invited to take up the spots.  The deadline for accepting the places was June 20 and passed without the BOA taking any action.  The situation angered Smith who wrote a letter to the BOA to express his frustration.

  “Fina has invited Madelyn Moore and Jesse Washington to participate in the Tokyo Games. If the BOA is not willing to sign the document that needs to be submitted by June 20, it will have made a decision to restrict the Bermuda athletes to the A standard only for selection. This would mean that all athletes in Bermuda would be asked to be at the top-14 level just to compete at the Olympics,” Smith wrote ahead of the deadline expiration.

“How did we reach a point of creating further obstacles for our young Bermudians when our international partners have welcomed them with open arms?

“Why is the Bermuda Olympic Association spending so much time and effort to remove athletes that have been selected internationally and restricting our team size,” Smith later told the Royal Gazette.

 

 

Olympics great Mark Spitz believes politically active athletes are unlikely to heed demands for them not to protest during Tokyo 2020.

United States swimming superstar Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Munich Games to establish himself as an all-time legend of the pool.

He recalled the Black Power salute from American track athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico Games four years earlier as a prime example of Olympians using their platform to take a powerful stance in front of the watching world.

On the podium in Mexico City, after Smith won gold in the 200 metres and Carlos took bronze, the American sprinters each stood with a black-gloved hand raised and head bowed, an immortal protest against racism in the United States.

Spitz acknowledged the determined efforts of current sporting superstars such as LeBron James and Lewis Hamilton to draw attention to similar matters of racial prejudice.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said last year that the Olympics "are not and must never be a platform to advance political or any other divisive ends".

Bach added: "Our political neutrality is undermined whenever organisations or individuals attempt to use the Olympic Games as a stage for their own agendas, as legitimate as they may be."

In an interview with Stats Perform, Spitz said of the IOC's intentions: "I know they have had some campaigns at a political level not to make it a platform for people to speak out against things that are obviously a concern to them, and they use when they stand on the podium and win a medal to voice their opinion.

"I am on the fence in how I feel about it. An example was Tommie Smith and John Carlos who held their hands up in the 1968 Olympic Games in track and field. And that still resonates to this day.

"And the issues they spoke loud and clear about are still happening here in America and worldwide. So I don't think people's rightful opportunity to speak out will be eradicated."

Speaking courtesy of Laureus, Spitz added: "I think there's a proper place and a proper time and in most people's opinion the proper place and time are when the most people in the world are listening to you.

"And certainly that provokes those sort of things to happen at the Olympics, or other events for that matter."

Formula One champion Hamilton and NBA superstar James have used their global fame as a means to call for equality in society and sport.

Spitz stressed he remained "down the middle of the line" on political protests in sport, but he added: "I think morally if they feel they need to speak out then they should. And there's a way to do that in a polite and politically correct and accurate way. I think those two gentlemen [Hamilton and James] have done so."

Spitz, now 71, no longer holds the record for the most gold medals in a single Games after fellow swimming great Michael Phelps won eight at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

He predicted organisers of the delayed Tokyo Olympics - set back a year by the COVID-19 pandemic - will go the extra mile to deliver a standout entertainment experience for the worldwide audience.

International spectators have been banned from travelling to watch the Games, in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

"I suspect and hope they will go off without a hitch, but in keeping with tradition I'm not sure how they'll do an opening ceremony with all those people, or an opening ceremony show," Spitz said.

"It is a big revenue generator for the television networks to have those part of the festivities. It's a shame if it's not done as we're accustomed to seeing, but I think it will be modified and we'll be happy with what the presentation will be I hope."

The youth of the CARIFTA region were treated to an excellent performance by Alex Sobers of Barbados who hit three Tokyo Olympic B times at the ISCA International Senior Cup.

The Jamaican government will provide more than JMD$45 million in direct financial support to athletes preparing for this summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Olympian Alia Atkinson continued in her fantastic form at the 2021 Florida Gold Coast Senior Championships held from March 19-21 in Florida.

Competing for South Florida Aquatics, Atkinson was at her imperious best winning all three of her individual events to make it 13 victories from 14 starts in 2021.

Her compatriots, Morgan Cogle of Jupiter Dragons and Simone Vale of Pine Crest Swimming, also competed at the meet with creditable results

What was outstanding about Atkinson’s swims, was the manner in which she achieved victory.

In the 100-yard freestyle, she broke ground for herself and Jamaican swimming breaking the national record in the event.

After cruising to the final as the top seed by virtue of her 50.72 in the preliminary round, she unleashed in the final, taking the first 50 yards in 23.50. She eventually stopped the clock 48.81 winning by more than two seconds.

She also lowered her previous personal best of 49.64 while breaking the previous record of 49.08 that was set by compatriot, former club teammate and fellow Olympian and friend Natasha Moodie.

The time also made Atkinson the first Jamaican woman to swim under 49 seconds in the event.

As it turns out, Atkinson was only just warming up.

In the 100-yard butterfly, Atkinson lowered her own pool record and Jamaican best of 52.62 to win in 52.01 while showing the field a clean pair of heels winning by almost three seconds.

She would go on to win the 100-yard breaststroke final by more than three seconds stopping the clock in 58.92 (split time 27.26). The win represented the 10th fastest time of her career and the best she has registered since 2019.

There would be more trips to top of the podium after splitting 50 yards in 28.09 to propel South Florida Aquatics to victory in the 200-yard medley relay in 1:46.71.

Cogle swam the opening backstroke leg in 28.47 for her team to finish in 1:51.30.

In the 200 yard freestyle, the results would be golden for Cogle and her Jupiter Dragons. She split 24.09 to give her team the lead after her second leg.

Atkinson erased that lead with her third leg split of 23.04. However, the Dragons had too much firepower on the last leg and came back to win 1:37.41 to SFA’s 1:37.59.

Meanwhile, Cogle continued to achieve personal milestones, the best of which came in the 100-yard backstroke.

Heading to the senior championships, she held had a personal best time of 1:00.30 in the 100-yard backstroke. She blew that time out of the water clocking 58.89, bettering her previous best by more than a second.

In the 100-yard freestyle, she lowered her personal best from 53.87 to 52.97.

She also lowered her previous best in the 50-yard freestyle from 24.92 to 24.76.

She fell just short of a personal best in the 200-yard freestyle in which she clocked 1:56.69 just shy of her best time of 1:56.42.

Simone Vale opened her 2021 campaign at this meet and featured in two Championship finals.

In the 100-yard backstroke, she placed ninth with a time of 59.39. She would also contest the longest backstroke race, the 200-yard event, in which she placed 10th in 2:12.39.

The South Florida Aquatics Club won the women’s section won with 1013.50 points. Pine Crest was second with 492 points. The Jupiter Dragons were sixth with 273.50 points. The South Florida Aquatics also captured the men and overall titles.

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