Alice Deering: Redemption in the water for Great Britain’s first black Olympic swimmer

Competitions in the women’s 10 km marathon swim in Olympic Games in Tokyo In August 2021, the 24-year-old became the first black swimmer to represent Team Great Britain at the Olympics.
Only two black swimmers have represented Great Britain at Games before Deering: Kevin Burns swam at the 1976 Montreal Olympics and Paul Marshall won bronze in Moscow four years later.
“This is something I never thought I would be or achieve,” Dearing said. CNN Sports.

“Going to the Olympics is incredible and I’m honored to be one of the few select people to have ever represented Great Britain at the Olympics.”

Deering competes in the women's 10K marathon at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo riots

Regardless of the outcome, she wrote herself into the history books the moment she dived into the waters of Odaiba Marine Park, but for Deering, that was the problem—the outcome was everything.

Dropping out of the top group early on, Dearing finished 19th, with Brazil’s Marcela Cunha taking gold. “I am very broken,” she told reporters after the race.

Four months later, when CNN talks to her, the pain is still fresh.

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“It was not at all what I expected or expected from myself, I was really disappointed with it,” Dearing said.

“It will always be with me and I think there is nothing wrong with that – it is the passion I have for wanting to be who I am, I want to be one of the best athletes in the world.

“The fact that such an outcome ultimately reflects my entire life is what really hurts me at the moment.”

Deering after she placed 19th in Tokyo.

“Fuel for the fire”

Months after intense training, Dearing has focused on the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, the literal home games for the West Midlands born and raised Dearing.

However, given the extent of her frustration, it’s no surprise that she’s already set her sights on the Paris 2024 Olympics, with qualification scheduled to take place a year before the Games.

If the “fuel for the fire” ignited by Tokyo’s injury weren’t enough, Dearing would have arrived in Paris without the extra weight associated with her first time in the Olympics – a weight she admits she’s underweight. appreciated at the time. .

“I didn’t give it as much attention as I thought I should have,” Dearing said.

“I thought, ‘I’m competing against the same women that I always compete against… how different will the Games be?’ And they were.

“It was exciting and amazing, but also incredibly scary. Knowing all these emotions – everything that is happening – will only strengthen my mental frame and my attitude towards Paris.

Dearing eyes an improved finish in Paris 2024.

Return of the fans

On top of that, there is the potential momentum of the presence of fans, friends and family. Debuting in Games like no other in history — running without fans due to pandemic — Deering will have a much more traditional experience in the French capital if she qualifies.

“I can experience the Games as they were in the past – have fans there and live by them,” she said.

“I’ve only had one visit to see me at a competition abroad, so I’m kind of used to having no one by my side, but Paris would be a great opportunity to gather friends and family and make everyone happy.” good time.

“Hopefully I swim well and have a really good race and then have a big party at the end – it’s all part of the fun of the sport.”