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September 26, 2018

Man arrested on suspicion of molestation of six girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex

Man arrested on suspicion of molestation of six girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Location of the Hougang Swimming Pool.
Image: OpenStreetMap.

A man, 36 years old, was arrested Monday on the suspicion that he had been molesting various girls at Singapore’s Hougang Swimming Complex, representatives from the Ang Mo Kio police division said on September 25.

The six girls allegedly molested by said man ranged in age from 9 to 13. Authorities were alerted to the case at about 3:50 p.m. on September 13.

After an investigation, the police managed to track down the suspect, who was arrested at Hougang Avenue 2 on Monday.

He is scheduled to be formally charged with outrage of modesty in court on Wednesday. This crime is punishable by two years’ imprisonment, caning, a fine, or a combination these punishments.



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August 6, 2016

Australian swim team pulled from Rio training pool when water turns \’soupy\’

Australian swim team pulled from Rio training pool when water turns ‘soupy’

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

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Concerns about water quality at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games have expanded to include the inside training pool: top Australian swimming coach Michael Bohl moved his Olympic athletes from the main training pool on Thursday citing fear of infection.

The team had a pre-booked session in the training pool where they would have practiced uninterrupted. However, during the session the water in the pool turned, as Bohl described, “cloudy” and “soupy looking”. Concerned about his athletes’ health, he moved them from the training pool to the busier, but cleaner, main competition pool.

Bohl took his concerns to officials and was told the matter would be looked into.

This comes off the back of other water concerns in Rio, particularly in the Guanabara Bay venue for outdoor water events. An Associated Press-commissioned study found Rio’s Olympic waterways contained as much as 1.7 million times worse viral levels than the emergency threshold in Europe or the US. As a result, athletes were advised to keep their mouths closed and avoid putting their heads underwater or risk falling ill.

Swimming events at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games are to begin today.



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March 12, 2015

Ten killed in helicopter crash in Argentina, French Olympians among the dead

Ten killed in helicopter crash in Argentina, French Olympians among the dead

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

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File photo of a ‘Eurocopter’, similar to the aircraft involved in the collision.
Image: Elisabeth Klimesch.

Three French sport stars are among the dead following a helicopter crash on Monday in Villa Castelli, Argentina. In total, ten people died after the crash, which involved two helicopters. The dead included passengers and both pilots in the mid-air collision. The victims were taking part in the French reality television show ‘Dropped‘ when the accident happened.

The victims included Olympic swimmer Camille Muffat, Olympic boxer Alexis Vastine and Florence Arthaud, a yachtswoman. Both pilots were Argentinian, the remainder of the victims were French and worked as part of the television shows production team. Bodies of all ten of the victims have been retrieved and taken to the morgue.

The accident occurred while both helicopters were flying at a low altitude in tandem. Amateur camera footage shows the helicopters colliding when one appears to fly into the path of the other. It remains unclear what caused actions which lead to the crash. Cesar Angulo, Secretary of Security for La Rioja, the province in which the accident happened released an update. He said “An explosion occurred and it’s believed that they must have collided. Aeronautical experts will have to determine that.”

French President Francois Hollande paid tribute to the victims. Speaking about the sport stars who lost their lives he said “They are dead because they wanted to push the boundaries. They wanted to make new exploits known to the world, make people aware of new countries and regions.” An involuntary manslaughter investigation has been opened by French officials. The procedure occurred automatically due to the fact the French citizens died abroad.

The television show involves contestants taking part in survival style activities in remote locations. Other contestants taking part included figure skater Philippe Candeloro, footballer Sylvain Wiltord, snowboarder Anne-Flore Marxer, swimmer Alain Bernard and Jeannie Longo, a cyclist. All the other contestants were uninjured during the accident.

The show, which was to be shown on TF1 in France started filming in February. The channel released a statement after the accident. They said “We learn with immense sadness of the accident that occurred during the filming of the show ‘Dropped.’ [Staff] come together in this terrible time with the pain of the families and those close to the victims”. French media announced that all contestants and crew are returning home and that filming had been suspended.

Muffat became the Olympic champion in the 400m freestyle event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. The 25-year-old also won a silver and bronze medal at the same games in different events. Vastine, 28, also competed at the 2012 games, being eliminated from the Light Welterweight category in the quarter finals. He won a gold medal in the 2008 games in Beijing, China. Arthaud, 57, was a yachtswoman who won the 1990 Route du Rhum.



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June 27, 2014

Russians continue to top podium on third day of European Deaf Swimming Championships

Russians continue to top podium on third day of European Deaf Swimming Championships

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Friday, June 27, 2014

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The second day of swimming at the European Deaf Swimming Championships
Image: Federación Española de Deportes para Sordos.

With day three of the European Deaf Swimming Championships wrapped up on Wednesday in Saransk, Russia, the host nation continues to lead in total number of gold medals awarded.

Russian men swept the podium in the men’s 50m butterfly with Ilya Trishkin taking home gold and besting the previous European Championship Record with a time of 25.62. Fellow Russian Vitaliy Obotin finished first in the men’s 200m medley, setting a new European record in the process and beating out the next closest swimmer in today’s competition, Trishkin, by almost 5 seconds. Eleonora Brykanova won a gold in the women’s 100m freestyle. Martin Fomin finished first in the men’s 200m breaststroke, with a European Championship Record time of 2:24.27. Russian swimmers claimed half the total gold medals awarded on the day, and half the total of all medals awarded.

The remaining gold medals were distributed amongst four other countries. Ukraine’s Anna Tovsta won gold in the women’s 800m freestyle. Poland’s Artur Pioro finished first in the men’s 400m freestyle. Great Britain’s Danielle Joyce captured gold in the women’s 200m backstroke with a world record time of 2:25.38. Belarus’s Aksana Petrushenka finished first in the women’s 100m breaststroke. During the preliminary race, she set a new European Championship Record with a time of 1:15.33 before going on to better that time in the final with a time of 1:13.23.

Overall, Ukraine climbed one place over Germany in the overall medal rankings, having won four total medals on Wednesday. Poland and Great Britain also went up one spot each. Germany fell to sixth place, having won only one silver medal on the day. Swimmers from Greece, Latvia, Netherlands, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Spain and Turkey failed to win any medals.

Yesterday was an off day for swimming, and competition had continued today.

Total medals after day three of competition
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Russia 15 13 10 38
2 Belarus 6 1 2 9
3 Ukraine 1 5 7 13
4 Poland 1 3 3 7
5 Great Britain 1 2 3 6
6 Germany 1 1 0 2
7 Greece 0 0 0 0
7 Latvia 0 0 0 0
7 Netherlands 0 0 0 0
7 Portugal 0 0 0 0
7 Republic of Macedonia 0 0 0 0
7 Spain 0 0 0 0
7 Turkey 0 0 0 0



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June 25, 2014

Russians top podium on second day of European Deaf Swimming Championships

Russians top podium on second day of European Deaf Swimming Championships

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

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The second day of swimming at the European Deaf Swimming Championships
Image: Federación Española de Deportes para Sordos.

With the second day of swimming yesterday at the European Deaf Swimming Championships in Saransk, Russia, Russia won five of the seven gold medals awarded on the day.

Vladislav Vasin won the men’s 50 meter freestyle. Igor Zhuravlev came in first in the men’s 100 meter backstroke. Vitaly Obotin finished first in the men’s 400 meter medley. Ekaterina Savchenko won gold in the women’s 200 meter butterfly. Leonid Grishin, Stepan Klimenko, Miron Denisov and Vitaly Obotin came in first in the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle.

Rounding out the day’s first place finishes, Belarussian Aksana Petrushenka won the women’s 50 meter freestyle, and Maryia Rudzko, Katsiaryna Eramtsova, Aksana Petrushenka and Anastasiya Filipchyk in the women’s 4 x 100 meter medley.

Several records were broken on the day. During a preliminary, Russian Obotin set a new European Deaf Swimming Championships record in the the 400 meter medley event, breaking German Bjorn Koch’s record set at the 2010 Dortmund, Germany hosted championship. Obotin’s time was 9 seconds slower than his European record holding time of 4:34.49, which he set in Sofia, Bulgaria last year. In the final, Obotin broke his European record with a time of 4:33.66. Vasin matched the European Championship Record in the men’s 50 meter freestyle final, with a time of 24.35, equaling Greek George Dontas’s record set at the 2002 championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Russian Ekaterina Savchenko set a European Championship Record in the women’s 200 meter butterfly, with a time of 2:27.90, bettering her own European Championship Record set in Thessaloniki, Greece in 2006. The Russian team of Leonid Grishin, Stepan Klimenko, Miron Denisov and Vitaliy Obotin set a European Championship record in the men’s 4 x 200m freestyle, beating the record set at the 2010 Dortmund hosted championship. The Belorussian team of Maryia Rudzko, Katsiaryna Eramtsova, Aksana Petrushenka and Anastasiya Filipchyk set a world record in the women’s 4 x 200m medley, beating the record set by Belarus in 2009 in Taipei.

After two full days of swimming, Russia led the competition’s overall medal count with 26 medals, 11 of which were gold. Belarus was second, with 6 total medals, 5 of which were gold. Germany was third, with just one medal, which was gold.

Total medals after day two of competition
Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Russia 11 9 6 26
2 Belarus 5 0 1 6
3 Germany 1 0 0 1
4 Ukraine 0 4 5 9
5 Poland 0 3 2 5
6 Great Britain 0 1 3 4
7 Greece 0 0 0 0
7 Latvia 0 0 0 0
7 Netherlands 0 0 0 0
7 Portugal 0 0 0 0
7 Republic of Macedonia 0 0 0 0
7 Spain 0 0 0 0
7 Turkey 0 0 0 0



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August 15, 2013

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font

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Deborah Font at Madrid–Barajas Airport on Friday
Image: Laura Hale.

Wikinews interviews Deborah Font
Audio: Laura Hale.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Last Friday at Madrid–Barajas Airport, Wikinews interviewed Spanish Paralympic swimmer Deborah Font, who is competing at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships that started this Monday in Montreal, Canada. Font has finished second in Monday’s Women’s 100 meter Freestyle S12 Heat 1, before going on to finish fourth in the Women’s 100 meter Freestyle S12 Final with a time of 1:03.20, less than a second behind bronze medalist German Naomi Maike Schnittger.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png I’m Laura Hale, I’m interviewing Deborah Font for Wikinews. Deborah is going to the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal. You’re already a Paralympic medallist, right? You’ve won several medals at the Paralympics before?

Deborah Font: I won two medals in Sydney [2000 Summer Paralympic Games], a gold medal and bronze medal; in Athens [2004 Summer Paralympic Games] two silver medals and one bronze medal; in Beijing [2008 Summer Paralympic Games] one bronze medal; and in London 2012 Summer Paralympic Games one bronze medal. Seven in Paralympic Games.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png And in World Championships?

Deborah Font: I don’t know the exact number. Several.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What style do you swim?

Deborah Font: 400m freestyle.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Okay, and you’re going to do that in Montreal?

Deborah Font: In Montreal I’ll do 400m freestyle.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You think you’re going to get a medal?

Deborah Font: Yes, I’m fighting for a silver or bronze medal.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What classification are you?

Deborah Font: S-12.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png S-12. So you have partial vision.

Deborah Font: Yeah, partial. [I can see a little.]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Since you cannot see perfectly, when you swim, can you see the people next to you?

Deborah Font: I can see those next to me, but not perfectly. I see those near to me, but not those far from me.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think about other swimmers when you swim, or is it a disadvantage because you cannot see swimmers farther away?

Deborah Font: I swim my race, and don’t see the other swimmers.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png They don’t matter when you swim? You swim against yourself, your best time?

Deborah Font: I swim against myself, I don’t see the other swimmers too much. My race, myself, I go inside myself.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you have any sponsors?

Deborah Font: No, no sponsors.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How difficult is it to swim in Spain for Paralympic swimmers when you don’t have sponsors?

Deborah Font: We have a Paralympic Committee. It’s difficult having sponsors in Spain. For the Olympics, athletes don’t have many sponsors, and for Paralympics it’s more difficult.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Where are you from?

Deborah Font: Barcelona.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is swimming more competitive in Barcelona, in Madrid…? Where do you think the best swimmers come from?

Deborah Font: They come from all Spain, but train only in Madrid or Barcelona. Most in Barcelona. (laughs)

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is there a reason most of the swimmers train in Barcelona?

Deborah Font: There are more possibilities for training in good swimming pools. The “Centros de Alto Rendimiento” [High Performance Centres] are in Madrid or Barcelona.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Coming in into the World Championships, did you do any special training, or change how you prepare?

Deborah Font: I did special training with a coach that only trains three or four of us at the High Performance Centre.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png This is a pretty dumb question, but I know a lot of people who look at blind swimmers and they go how can they swim at a straight line? Can you clarify how people with vision impairments can actually swim?

Deborah Font: Well, in swimming it’s all technique and a lot of learning, and learning to swim by the middle of the lane involves a lot of training, habit… Perhaps it’s more difficult for completely blind people, but it’s all a matter of training, trying again and again, get to know the swimming pool… But I think the most difficult thing is to learn to swim the technique without being able to see the others, and to know what you are moving, your arm here and not there… and learning to touch the wall, it’s harder to calculate, especially when competing, because you cannot see the distance you have to the wall.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thank you very much!



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This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.

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August 11, 2013

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Marta Gómez

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Marta Gómez

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Wikinews interviews Marta Gomez.
Image: Laura Hale.

Marta Gomez at Madrid–Barajas Airport yesterday
Image: Laura Hale.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thursday at Madrid–Barajas Airport, Wikinews interviewed Spanish Paralympic swimmer Marta Gomez, who is scheduled to compete at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships that start on Monday in Montreal, Canada.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png This is Laura Hale, I’m interviewing Marta Gómez, a Spanish Paralympic swimmer going to the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal. Are you going to Montreal and what strokes and distances are you competing in?

Marta Gomez : I’ll swim the 100 meter and 400 freestyle, and the 200 individual medley.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Have you won any medals at previous championships?((es))

Marta Gomez : In 2011, at the European Championships in Berlin, I won 3 bronze.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think you will win any medals in Montreal?((es))

Marta Gomez : I will try to fight for a medal in the 400 freestyle which is my main event, but, well, [if I swim well and feel well] my options are clearer, but until you swim nothing is clear.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You’ve competed at previous Paralympic Games? In London?

Marta Gomez : Yes.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png And you didn’t win any medals?

Marta Gomez : No, I didn’t win any medals.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What’s the difference preparing for London to the World Championships?((es))

Marta Gomez : That I have improved many aspects of technical level [like?] performance, and especially the psychological aspect that after London I have faced other competitions and I feel much more confident about myself and I have become more competitive.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are you a swimmer with a visual impediment? You cannot see…?((es))

Marta Gomez : S13.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png When you swim, can you see the swimmers next to you?((es))

Marta Gomez : Depending on the race, you will always be able to — some races like in short distances like the 100 meter breaststroke and 100 meter freestyle as it is too short to lose sight of your rivals, but for example in 400 meters, yes, but I can only see from the sides. I cannot see all the swimmers. In the 800 meters, seeing swimmers in the race is impossible: I fail to see them.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png When you swim, do you mostly think about your own race because you cannot fully see everyone? Do you race more against yourself because you can not see?((es))

Marta Gomez : Yes, of course. Not being able to see your rivals you have to concentrate on your event because you may have nobody to [watch?], you may have a slight reference but you have to swim against yourself.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Why did you choose swimming as opposed to athletics or Goalball or some other sport?

Marta Gomez : I have only practiced swimming since childhood, I’ve always liked the water and it’s been the only sport I’ve practiced because I think it’s a sport where you feel a lot of freedom and don’t have any architectural barriers or anything.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Gracías.((en))

Marta Gomez : De nada.((en))



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August 10, 2013

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer María Delgado

Wikinews interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer María Delgado

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Wikinews interviews María Delgado.
Image: Laura Hale.

María Delgado at Madrid–Barajas Airport Thursday.
Image: Laura Hale.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thursday at Madrid–Barajas Airport, Wikinews interviewed Spanish Paralympic swimmer María Delgado, who is scheduled to compete at the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships that start on Monday in Montreal, Canada. Delgado will be 15 when she is to compete in Montreal.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png I’m Laura Hale, I’m interviewing María Delgado who is a Spanish swimmer and who is going to the 2013 IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, and you have received a lot of press attention from the Spanish press for being the next great Spanish Swimmer, […] [Do you expect to medal in this tournament or in Río?]((es)) [Note: The translated question here differed from the one originally asked in English.]

María Delgado: [laughs] I don’t know.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The Spanish newspapers say she is the greatest swimmer, she is the next greatest Spanish Paralympic swimmer. Does she feel pressure from the media saying that she is a great swimmer to perform in a really high level? Does she feel pressure to win because the newspapers say it? Spanish newspapers say she is the next great Spanish Paralympic swimmer, that she is going to go to Río.

Translator: She has also been future with “plan AXA”, who bet on young swimmers Paralympics, and has been going at concentrations, which are younger with future have driven a little to fit in the world level of competition.((es))
María Delgado: I’m on a plan for young talent, that is preparing for Rio 2016 and has selected us, and now we go to the World Championship.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Because you are 15, how do you […] balance going to school and competing?

María Delgado: It’s a little difficult but with hard work and effort it’s doable. Study in the morning and train in the afternoon.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are you doing school work while you are in Montreal? How does you balance school? How do you do the school at the 15 years old and swim? Because that seems really hard to do both at once.((es))

María Delgado: It is very difficult to combine and train while swimming, with swimming and studying.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Because you’re 15 do your parents go with you? Are your parents going to Montreal or are you all traveling solo by yourself?

María Delgado: With my coaches. My parents aren’t going.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Only with your coach?((es))

María Delgado: Yes.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Is it scary to be on your own? Competing against all these 20 year olds and 30 year olds who’ve been to Paralympic games, or you just go “I’m 15, I can — el Mundo es mío [the world is mine]”?((es))

María Delgado: I’m not scared and I go eagerly.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thank you.((es))



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August 7, 2013

Deaflympics 2013: US swimmer breaks second world record

Deaflympics 2013: US swimmer breaks second world record

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

File photo of an Olympic-size swimming pool.
Image: Cortomaltais.

Swimmer Matthew Klotz of the United States has broken his second backstroke world record in Sofia, Bulgaria during the 2013 Deaflympics.

The high school senior had previously in the 2013 Deaflympics broken the 100 metre backstroke record, continuing his streak by breaking the record for the same stroke in the 200 metre event. The latter record, previously held by South Africa, Klotz broke twice, in both the preliminaries and the finals, with his final time of 2:07.43 breaking the original record by over a second. Klotz also set a record leadoff time in the 4 X 100 medley relay.

“It was pretty exciting because I kept getting faster and faster”, said Klotz after his first record-breaking event, in a media release. “It was a close race — two Japanese swimmers finished right behind me”. Klotz also took home bronze in the 400 metre individual medley, came fourth in the 400 metre freestyle, fifth in the 50 metre backstroke, and eighth in the 200 metre freestyle.

The 17-year-old was to fly home to Cameron Park, California on Monday. He holds seven US swimming records.



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January 19, 2013

Wikinews interviews Spain\’s most decorated Paralympian, Teresa Perales

Wikinews interviews Spain’s most decorated Paralympian, Teresa Perales

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Zaragoza, Spain — On Thursday, Wikinews traveled to Zaragoza, Spain to interview the nation’s most decorated Paralympian and IPC Athlete Council representative Teresa Perales. A wide range of topics about the Paralympics and sport in Spain were discussed including the evolution of Paralympic sport, disability sport classification, funding support across all levels of elite sport including the Paralympics and Olympics, the role of sportspeople in politics, sponsorship issues, and issues of gender in Spanish sport.

Wikinews reporter LauraHale interviews Spanish Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales

Evolution of the Paralympics[]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png Hi this is Laura Hale and I’m interviewing Teresa Perales (Raystorm translating), the most decorated Spanish paralympian of all time, and we’re in Zaragoza. And you’re from Zaragoza, right?

Teresa Perales in Zaragoza on Thursday
Image: LauraHale.

Teresa Perales :Yes, I’m from Zaragoza.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngSo, are you confident that Madrid is going to get the 2020, and are you going to stay around?

Teresa Perales : (laughs) I’d love to. I participated in the bid for Madrid 2016. It was a pity we didn’t get them, and I hope now it is our chance. But I don’t think I will be competing in them.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngYou first competed in 2000. Has there been a big change from 2000 to London that you’ve noticed like in terms of the atmosphere, or even the level of sport and issues of classification?

Teresa Perales : Yes, especially in the level of sport. Our sport is more professional, there are more countries that dedicate more resources, and it is much more professional than in 2000. I’ve seen an evolution, in Sydney times that were gold medal now didn’t make it to the finals. Another very important change has been the media coverage, at an international level and specially in Spain. Here in Spain for the first time we’ve had more than 14 hours of daily coverage of the Games. We’ve had specific programmes and general coverage, and that has been completely different than in Beijing, Athens, Sydney and previous others. It’s been the first time that we’ve been featured in the main pages of newspapers and opened the first minutes of the tv news. Regarding organization, I don’t think there’s been much change. I think Sydney organised the Games wonderfully well. Athens wasn’t very good, at all. Beijing was amazing: the organization was A plus, volunteers were A plus, everyone was A plus. It was fantastic. And London was like… I’m now using a new term, which it no longer is integration or normalization, it is naturally. As in, now everyone does see us the same, just exactly like the Olympians. Not for our disabilities. The biggest change I’ve seen is how people look at me, for example, it now is: I’ve won 22 medals. I am the sportsperson with more medals in Spanish History. And this has been recognised at an institutional and social level. This year I will receive the Gran Cruz al Mérito Deportivo, the highest honor that a sportsperson can achieve in Spain. It never before had been conceded to a paralympic sportsperson, ever. Many national awards, which weren’t possible for sportspeople with disabilities, national awards from newspapers, associations, clubs or town halls. It’s a radical change.((es))

Sponsorship[]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngI went to London, and the quality of sport — you didn’t go there and say, that’s a person in a wheelchair. You went, fall down guy in a wheelchair, because the sport was so great. There was no embarrassment like the Olympics where they let the people from Lesotho swim in the pool. [The level of sport] was very equitable [at the Paralympics]. In Australia, there was discussion amongst the Paralympians with the issue of sponsorship because sport is becoming so elite. Do you think Paralympians should be getting sponsorship and on the same level that their able-bodied counterparts are?

Interior panorama of the London Aquatics Centre, one of the venues of the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Image: Alexander Kachkaev.

Teresa Perales : Of course. Yes, I hope, some day. Here in Spain… I don’t know well other countries, how they work, I know the financial recognition they get after the Games, but I don’t know the level of sponsorship the sportspeople have. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngYeah I was asking you about Spain, the Australians are why I asked.

Teresa Perales : Ah, ok. In Spain we have a law, which has to be improved, which is the Law on Patronage (“Ley del Mecenazgo”) which regulates the way in which companies sponsor a sportsperson or an event and receive tax deductions in exchange. For example, sponsoring the ADO Paralympian Plan. It’s a special plan for Olympians and a plan for Paralympians. The financial support for a Paralympian and for an Olympian is very different. The amount for a Paralympian is a tenth of that of an Olympian. For example, all my medals in London, which were a gold, three silvers and two bronzes, are financially equivalent to one Olympic bronze medal. Very different. Companies prefer to sponsor the event, the plan, before the sportsperson, because they receive more advantages for that. This is in the case of the Paralympians: for Olympians, it is more usual for companies to sponsor sportspeople. For Beijing and London I had a sponsor, Arena, the swimsuit brand, who gave me swimsuits to compete with. For London they gave me three. [Laughs]((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIs there any difference between men and women?

Teresa Perales : Only in the financial support of the clubs. Of course, that doesn’t affect us because we do not get money from the clubs. For example, Mireia Belmonte has an ADO sponsorhip, a Federations sponsorship, and well now she has problems with her club because she wanted to get the same amount of money as the men, and so she left the club. But she gets money from three places: ADO, Federation, and club. In our case it’s ADO only.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn the US, the system is, you need sponsorship to get to the elite level. In Australia, the government funds Olympians and Paralympians equally. Like goalball players got 7,000 dollars each, so it is interesting to find out how Spain differs.

Teresa Perales : Yes, but then, here in Spain we have to make a disctintion: we have the ADO Paralympic Plan since 2005, and the first time we perceived money, rewards for medals and ADO Plan, was after Beijing. Very recently.((es))

Classification[]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngAs someone who watched the Paralympics, classification was a huge issue. Mallory Weggemann was an American [Paralympic swimmer] who got reclassified at the Games and the Americans were really upset, and the Australians have said classifiers have won them more medals than the athletes themselves. How important is classification for you and are you happy with the system that exists for swimming?

Teresa Perales : Well, since I am also a representative of the Athlete’s Council at the International Paralympic Committee, this is a topic we have discussed there. We think that it is important than in the Olympic year, especially in the last months, and above all during the Games, there should be no classifications. Exactly to avoid these cases, in which sportspeople go up a category or down a category, and mess up the ranking. There have been many cases, in Spain we’ve had cases of people losing a medal because of a reclassification. We are worried about that and by the way in which events, the places to hold the competition, are selected during the Paralympic Games. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn Atlanta it was really bad…

Teresa Perales : Yes, some even were unable to compete because they were not able to get to the place of the event.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngSome of the people with the Paralympic movement think understanding classification is key towards moving the Games forward, like how do you convey that to the public, how classification works, so when somebody sees you, an S5 swimmer, they go, ‘we got times like this, but the S1 swimmers, this, and I can’t see much of a difference’.

Teresa Perales : Yes, that is one of the problems we have. In fact, it is the biggest problem for having in the future an open class system, a system in which all classes were able to compete together. One of the issues that was being evaluated since before London had to do with the events, not the place but the event, for example 50m butterfly, why now yes and before no, or why before yes and now not? One of the systems proposed, to avoid events from having to disappear, is unifying several categories. In other words, to have one class, but open. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngLike skiiing?

Teresa Perales : Yes. It’s similar. Yes, yes, similar to that. They are thinking of doing something similar in swimming, athletics, cycling… in sports with many people. This arises because we have a limited number of people who can participate in the Games, which is 4,000. 4,200, total. It’s 10,000 Olympians, while we are 4,000. And this is an agreement with the Olympic Committee. The Paralympic Committee makes a deal with the Olympic Committee, and that’s why we cannot exceed 4,000, and why some events have to be eliminated. To eliminate events, there is the option to concentrate the classes. But there is a big problem, because the public would not understand me competing against a swimmer who is only missing a hand, because she would obviously beat me. Imagine that I really do beat her not because I arrive before her, but because my time, due to the correction percentages or whatever, is held to be the winner, even if however I came in last position. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngThat happened in cycling. Set a World Record, did not win a medal.

Teresa Perales : Yes, I know. Yes, but they have, like in ski. In ski what they do is, time goes slower depending in which category you are in, so that at the end it is the same. Then the public really see that the time is going down and they are seeing a timer, seeing the time slowing down, but at the end they are seeing the same time. Then they see who’s won because they can see the time. The problem happens in sports in which several of us compete simultaneously, eight lanes. It’s difficult to understand.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngHave you ever had any problems with in your career where they’ve said…?

Teresa Perales : No. At first I was in New Zealand, I was S6, and then in 2000? No, in 1999, in the European Championships, I was reclassified, and now I am S5, SB4, and SM5, because they saw my arm is not very good.((es))

Mixing sport and politics[]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn the US, there is a view that celebrities and sportspeople should stay out of politics because… they’re dumb.

Teresa Perales : [Laughs]. Okay, this doesn’t happen in Spain.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Should sportspeople be involved and do Paralympians especially, should they be more involved because of the nature of the sport they are doing in politics, and is it something in Spain and should be done elsewhere in the world… Should there be a call for more Paralympians in politics? Because you protested in Madrid…

Teresa Perales : Yes!((es))

Paralympic swimmer Teresa Perales with Miguel Carballeda; the president of the Spanish Paralympic Committee told IOC inspectors Madrid would stage the “greatest Paralympic Games ever.”
Image: Atr1992.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngAnd you were a politician.

Teresa Perales : I was, I was. [Laughs] No, I worked in politics, I really wasn’t a politician. I believe that when you want things to change, and when you believe that there is something that has to change, you need to be part of the change. And that’s why I entered politics. That’s why I think that it is important that people get involved in politics. And not only… In my case, I didn’t get in for sports politics, I got in for general politics, because I believed there were several things that could be improved or that should be changed, and that’s why I got in. And I believe that sportspeople are very qualified, because, let me give an example. Me, that I spend seven days a week, six hours every day training, seeing the floor and walls, I just can do whatever I want in this life.[Laughs] I know I am not going to go down in the dumps if I have a problem, because while training I know that things may not work out the first day, the second, the third, but someday they will, right? And that’s what sportspeople contribute to any job, and especially to politics. I defend what sportspeople can contribute, I’ve given conference talks on what a sportsperson can contribute to a company, and what a sportsperson can contribute to politics is the same because it is also a job and a company, right? It’s how to manage resources: I manage my resources every day to get the most out of me. I also manage my emotions, because I am a whole. I am a physical whole, but also an emotional whole. And I know I can make decisions in a matter of seconds. I do it every time I compete. My 50m event takes 35 seconds. It’s 35 seconds. Four years, seven days a week, six hours every day for 35 seconds. So I can make decisions and work really well in politics or in whatever I want to. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngBecause they are disabled, and the way society treats people with disabilities, sets Paralympians off from able-bodied athletes, does that make it special emphasis that they should be more engaged in the political process than someone like Michael Phelps?

Teresa Perales : Yes, because… I had something very clear when I worked in politics, and it’s that you cannot make policies without the people to whom they are directed. It’s necessary for the people to whom they are destined work in politics, because that will ensure they are right. If not, no. And the people with disabilities, especially sportspeople with disabilities, that we care least of all about the disabilities really, we’ve had to overcome so many things, that we are able to contribute so much more.((es))

Funding Spanish sport[]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngThe Spanish Paralympic Committee is supported primarily by the Government?

Teresa Perales : No, for us it is the Government and companies. Both do the ADO Paralympic Plan.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngDo they give you as an athlete the support that you need to be successful?

Teresa Perales : No. No, absolutely not. I don’t have a lane for swimming every day, only for me. I have to share it with other, not athletes, not swimmers, people, who come to the swimming pool and then swim, or try to swim. I cannot afford to pay a lane exclusively for my use. It’s 30 euros per hour. I have to pay the ticket for the swimming pool, I have to pay all my travels, not with the national team, but my travels for qualifiers, and I can’t pay my coach, who is in another swimming pool, in another center, because I can’t. Okay, I have to be fair: the ADO Plan pays me 1,900 euros monthly, but I’m a mother, I have a family. I have to pay the school, everything. So this is not enough for me. I have to pay someone to take care of my child when I am competing, when I am in the stages. I remember this year, preparing London, I needed to be out of home for 22 days, twice, ok? I needed to pay someone for being with my baby, and it’s very expensive. So it’s not enough. I win gold so I have this kind of money — is the same [as] sixth place in [the] Olympics. Someone who was sixth at the Olympics has the same as me with a gold medal. I was recently at the Congress of Deputies, and I was talking about this.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIs the Spanish Paralympic Committee working to fix this? Is it one of their goals to adjust this problem?

Teresa Perales : Yes, but the Spanish Paralympic Committee are… Let me count.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngThey said six…

Teresa Perales : Yeah. [Laughs] It is true that the companies who support us, who support the ADO Paralympian Plan, it’s been easier to get them to sign again after London than those of the Olympians. But then again, it’s because the quantities are smaller!((es))

Being an elite female athlete[]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn other interviews you talk about your family life. That’s interesting, but you are an elite female athlete, and there’s other interesting questions. Is there anything…?

Teresa Perales : As female Paralympians, I think we are one, two, three, four. Four Paralympian mothers. Only. That we go to the Games. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngHow many women total, then?

Teresa Perales : Puf, I don’t know. It is very difficult, you know, to be a mother, train, compete, be at the stages, take care of the kid… sometimes it’s a balancing act. Apart from the physical changes that take place when you become a mother. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngParalympics in some sports have many fewer women than men, especially skiing. Is that something that exists in swimming, and does it hurt the quality of sport? Because the men in the skiing are like, the women, they are so few of them, they embarrass us, is that something that exists on a swimming level?

Teresa Perales : Yes. But not only in Spain, in the whole world.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngPeople say that women don’t swim as well as the men, because there’s so few?

Teresa Perales : We are very few. In Spain we had a problem before the Games due to the number of spots given to the Spanish women swimmers, which were a third of those offered to the men. And we had female swimmers who made the qualifying time but could not go to the Games. And in Spain qualifiers are hard, there are two kinds: A minimum and B minimum. I’m talking about swimming, athletics… Especially swimming. B minimum is until the eighth position, A minimum is until the third. So, there we women who would have made the finals, and could not go. But this is not a recent problem, it’s because of classification, at the World Championships… it’s not only a problem in Spain. It’s a problem that women do not participate as much as men. I really believe it is a family problem, a cultural problem, and it is a problem that comes from women traditionally doing more things than men and dedicating more time to their families than to training. A man doesn’t have to stop to have a child, usually has more support for the house things, and yet however women don’t.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngIn Australia they say, female sportswomen, fantastic, more medals! So they go for them. And that’s not the case here?

Teresa Perales : No. Not men or women. Only the medals. So if there’s a man who wins more medals, well, okay, the man. The problem is that this has to be potentiated before. It’s like the people with high support needs. There are fewer participants with high support needs, because it is much easier to tend to people with lesser disabilities. It’s like that.((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.pngYou’re really fascinating. It’s a completely different perspective. Is there anything else people should know about Paralympics in Spain, or you?

Teresa Perales : Well, to be fair I should say that my case is special because I’m in Aragón, in Zaragoza, we’re very few sportspeople with disabilities that make the Games. It’s not the same a sportsperson who lives in a city with a High Performance Center, they have it better than me. ((es))

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png I want to thank you a lot, thank you!



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Sources[]

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