‘Failure a part of life’
By Stephon Nicholas Saturday, August 4 2012
There were crestfallen faces throughout the country at about 3.13 pm yesterday, following four-time Olympian George Bovell III’s disappointing seventh place finish in the men’s 50-metre freestyle final at the London Olympics.
After registering 21.77 seconds in the preliminaries and semi-finals, Bovell was expected to make a big splash and contend for his second Olympic medal to add to his bronze won in the 200 Individual Medley at the Games in Athens, Greece in 2004.
With the nation at a standstill and his mother Barbara and sister Alex Bovell waving the national flag proudly at the Aquatic Centre in London, the former TT Sportsman of the Year just could not deliver.
In lane two, Bovell had a slow reaction out of the blocks and struggled to make up the distance throughout the race. With about 15 metres to go, he seemed to make a late surge, but had left himself too much to do as he touched the wall in a time of 21.82 seconds.
Surprise package Florence Manaudou of France won the gold in 21.34 seconds while Cullen Jones (21.54) of the United States and favourite Cesar Cielo (21.59) of Brazil followed in second and third respectively.
It was a sad and unexpected end for the TT swimmer who was ranked fourth in the world in that event going into the Games.
Yesterday, a nostalgic Bovell took to the social network site Twitter to express his disappointment.
“Sport is an opportunity to learn life’s lessons. Unfortunately failure is part of life. We have to address it, acknowledge it and move on,” Bovell tweeted.
Speaking with Newsday, however, Bovell’s aunt, Jennifer Avey, was in an upbeat mood and chose to look at the brighter side.
“He’s a four-time Olympian and people need to realise that it’s an awful lot of work that goes into making a final. We’d all like to (win a) medal, but sometimes it doesn’t work out. We will celebrate with him when he comes back,” she declared.
At 29 years old, the 2012 Olympics was expected to be the local athlete’s last shot at a medal but it was not to be and Bovell’s fans throughout the country were unable to contain their feelings.
At the popular liming spot in south Trinidad, The Rig, many patrons expressed disappointment.
“It wasn’t what I expected,” said one patron who gave her name as Aleema, “I thought he would have been among the top three finishers, but honestly I’m still proud of him and he did his best.”
Other patrons at the popular bar and restaurant shared similar sentiments as the local swimmer’s performance sent shockwaves throughout the twin island republic.
One worker at the establishment thought Bovell would have brought home the gold and had even wagered on it.
“I loss my money, I bet on George to come first and he make me loss my $200. What you go do, he try,” said an employee who wished to remain anonymous.
At Atherly’s By the Park restaurant and bar on Cipero Street, San Fernando, owner of the establishment and former San Fernando mayor Ian Atherly, said he is still happy for the former Auburn University student.
He noted that Bovell and other athletes have been able to bring the country together which is something politicians have failed to do.
“Yet still we do not see the importance of sportsmen and recognise the role that sport plays in the lives of people. I am happy for George despite the fact that he came seventh. As you can see people came out and were interested in what TT has to produce and we will continue doing that,” the former mayor said.
Another patron at the restaurant and bar, Dawad Phillip, who is the special adviser to Community Development Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters, said, “We may have lost a battle, but the war is still ahead. We sent 30 athletes so it is not as if we sent one. We continue to put hope and support in the remaining athletes and events.”