Saturday, 7 April 2012

Olympic Heartbreak - Fumiko Kawanabe

Fumiko Kawanabe on the right after finishing 3rd in the 100m Breaststroke.
As is always the case in Olympic years, for every jubilant swimmer that makes the Olympic Games, they're are always far more cases of distraught swimmers who have dedicated years of their life towards a goal to come up just short.

Every nation that has already had their Olympic trials have their own examples, but surely none have come close to the anguish Fumiko Kawanabe must be feeling.

On Wednesday Kawanabe finished third in the 100m Breaststroke, an agonising 0.02 seconds behind Mina Matsushima. Her time of 1:07.56 put her inside the world's top 10 this year at the time and inside Japan's tough Olympic qualifying cuts.

Missing out by 0.02 seconds in one event is gut wrenching enough for one person, but then today Kawanabe finished third once again in the 200m Breaststroke. The way the race unfolded was also crushing. Kawanabe went out for the race with searing speed, turning at 100m in 1:08.88 she was a second and a half clear of the rest of the field, at 150m she still held a second advantage over her closest challenger, but she couldn't quite hold on. This time she finished 0.27 seconds behind 15 year old Kanako Watanabe in a time of 2:23.83. Her time was good enough to move her all the way up to 4th in the world this year. That's right, Kawanabe is now the 4th fastest swimmer in the world this year and also 25th fastest in the event all-time, and still missed out on making the Olympic team.

If that hasn't pulled on the heart strings quite enough, let me continue. Kawanabe was born in 1984, a full 12 years earlier than Watanabe and 7 years earlier than 100m and 200m winner Satomi Suzuki. She has never been to an Olympic games before, and at the age of 28, the chances of her carrying on/making the 2016 team seem remote at best.

Both times this week were best times for Kawanabe, so hopefully she can take some solace from that, but for all the stories of disappointment you'll see this year, you'll be hard pressed to see one as sad as Fumiko Kawanabe.


  1. Wow...
    That is truly heartbreaking
    Poor Kawanabe
    Hopefully this is a blessing in disguise of some sort

  2. Blah - what do you want -a symphony?

    Cry me a river?