"Sport is a platform to learn valuable life lessons. And let's face the facts, failure is a big part of life. It's about learning how to address it, handling it and moving on."
These were the words of George Bovell yesterday as he took his defeat in stride, at the Aquatics Centre, here in London, England, yesterday. The 29-year-old Trinidad and Tobago swimmer finished seventh in the Olympic Games men's 50 metres freestyle final, touching the wall in 21.82 seconds.
Florent Manaudou struck gold, the Frenchman stopping the clock at 21.34 seconds,the fastest time ever recorded in a textile suit. American Cullen Jones seized silver in 21.54, forcing the 2008 Olympic champion, Brazilian Cesar Cielo (21.59) to settle for bronze.
"It happened so quickly," said Bovell, "I don't know what mistakes I made."
Unable to gain an early advantage, the four-time Olympian was up against it. Halfway through the race, he trailed the top three, and was unable to challenge for a podium finish.
On Thursday, Bovell clocked 21.77 seconds to lead all qualifiers into the semis. He returned to the pool in the second session, repeating his 21.77 swim to finish second in heat two and fifth overall in the semifinal round.
Bovell told the Express he drew on the positives from the first two rounds, in an attempt to swim the perfect race.
"The first half of the first race was great. And the night time, the last part of that race was perfect. I tried to put both of them together."
It didn't work, and Bovell had to settle for seventh spot in his second Olympic final. At the 2004 Athens Games, he had bagged bronze in the 200m individual medley.
In 2013, T&T's best ever swimmer will bid for precious metal at the World Championships, in Barcelona, Spain. That meet, he said, could well be his last.
"I plan to swim for another year, and then I think I'll retire," he said.
But Bovell is not certain he'll hang up his goggles after the 2013 Worlds. Asked if he was giving any thought to the possibility of competing at the 2016 Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the freestyle specialist said: "Rio is far away. Not yet."
Being an Olympic medallist in the past, Bovell explained, helped him deal with the disappointment of missing out on a podium finish in the London 2012, 50 free final.
"I came into this Olympics with a little less pressure than some of the other people, because I'm fortunate enough that I can be in a position right now that I can say, 'yeah, been there, done that'."
Bovell said he is grateful to those who supported him on his fourth Olympic journey.
"I just want to thank them for all. I really appreciate it, and it helped carry me. Sorry we didn't get a medal today."