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'I want to swim like him one day'

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

"I STILL want to be able to swim like him one day."

This was the reaction of six-year-old Janessa Layne yesterday after watching Trinidad and Tobago Olympic medal swimmer George Bovell participate in the men's 50-metre freestyle final at the London Olympics.

Bovell finished seventh in yesterday's final, clocking a time of 21.82 seconds.

Layne witnessed Bovell performance on the big screen outside Express House yesterday along with camp-mates from Kirton's Martial Arts Academy.

Over 100 attendees of the Kirton's Martial Arts Academy and their facilitators were present on the Brian Lara Promenade opposite Express House to witness Bovell Olympic final swim.

"I like to swim. I am in swimming class. I am sad that he did not win. I still want to be able to swim like him (Bovell) one day," Layne said yesterday.

Layne's camp-mate Malachai Woodley, six, said he too was "sad" that Bovell did not win.

"I feel sad. I really wanted him to win," Woodley said.

Camp facilitator Leanna Joyeau said she wanted the youngsters to witness a piece of the country's athletic history.

"Being that George Bovell was a medal hopeful and taking part in the Olympics we hyped them up whole day to support George Bovell and even though he placed seventh they understand and they are very supportive of him still, even though we have some here like they want to cry," Joyeau said.

Joining the youngsters on the Brian Lara Promenade yesterday were others who wanted to witness the 50-metre final race.

"I wish he was able to medal but I am still proud of him and he represented the country well," 43-year-old David Alleyne said.

"He swam well in the build up to the final but I think he had a bad start in the final itself. The fact is he reached to the final of a difficult tournament and did our country proud. Well done George," Alleyne said.

Hollis Cunningham, 69, said he was not disappointed by Bovell's inability to won a medal but instead was upset that TV6 did not broadcast the female 100 metres first round live.

Three local sprinters-—Kelly-Ann Baptiste, Michelle-Lee Ahye and Semoy Hackett—successfully participated in the female 100 metres first rounds yesterday.

All three have secured places in today's semifinals.

"I was standing here waiting for them (TV6) to show Kelly-Ann's race and next thing I know I seeing cycling then some show about Bovell. We cannot just support one of our athletes, we have to support them all," Cunningham said.

Cunningham was one of many people on the Promenade who were upset by not being able to see the female sprinters in action live.

TV6 Programme Manager Rhonda Ottley yesterday sought to allay the concerns of those affected by the station's decision to delay the broadcast of the female 100 metres first rounds.

"We wanted to ensure that the first medal hopeful got as much coverage as possible. We decided to go with swimming to get Bovell from start to finish. We wanted to hype up his race," Ottley said.

Ottley said the company knew that the decision would be "uncomfortable" to some viewers.

"We were looking to Bovell to bring home a medal and we wanted to do as much to lead into that," she said.

Ottley said the issue was caused by an "anomaly" on the Olympics timetable which saw an overlap between swimming and the start of the track and field events.

Ottley said she did not foresee any other situation like this arising in TV6's Olympic coverage.

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