Plenty jewelry: Trinidad and Tobago swim star George Bovell shows off his 16 medals (seven gold, nine silver) at the Piarco International Airport yesterday at a welcome reception. Bovell claimed the loot during the eight-leg FINA/Arena World Cup Series that ended on November 11 in Singapore. —Photo: Ayanna Kinsale

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Bovell wants World Championship medal

By Mark Pouchet

Top Trinidad and Tobago swimmer George Bovell returned home yesterday saying he now feels encouraged and empowered to continue pursuing his swimming career.

Next on the cards for Bovell is the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships in Istanbul, Turkey next month.

But looking back at his performances during the eight-leg FINA/Arena World Cup Series that concluded on Sunday, the Athens Olympics bronze medallist, who won 16 medals (seven gold, nine silver) and US $50,000 for second place overall, said he was not in high spirits after the London Games.

"After the Olympics, I made the final but I didn't get the medal, I really wanted the medal and I was disappointed I didn't get it. Honestly, I felt very defeated as I walked out of the pool in London," Bovell said, adding that he also heard some people's calls for his resignation from the sport.

The 29-year-old said he reached another low point after placing second in the 50m free in a meet in San Francisco a few weeks after the Olympics.

The four-time 2004 NCAA champion said he started to wonder, "if this was my karma or something"

"I did some soul-searching and thanks to the support of my parents, my training partners, my friends and my coach, I was given the opportunity to keep going," Bovell said.

Bovell added that he also had to contend with managing his performances by himself, compared with national teams that had a full array of coaches and massage therapists and technical staff.

But he said technology—the internet—allowed his local coach, Minister of Sport Anil Roberts to review his performances and give him feedback which he heeded and which helped him to continue to improve.

Bovell, who set the fastest time this year in the 100m Individual Medley (IM) (51.20) and the second fastest time in the Men's 50 m freestyle (21.82), says he hopes to finish the year with a bang.

"You can imagine how emotionally and physically drained I am after the World Cup but I am going to keep pushing because in one month's time is the World Championships. So I am back in the gym tomorrow (today) then back in the pool. I really feel it will be vindicating for me to get a medal at Worlds. It will be the greatest way to finish the year by winning a World Championship medal. So I couldn't get an Olympic medal but maybe we could go big with a World championship medal," he said.

At the reception yesterday were top age-group swimmers Jabari Baptiste and Syriah David as well as Bovell's mother and father , Barbara and George. Roberts and Minister of Agriculture Vassant Bharath were also in attendance, along with Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ASATT) president Lindsay Gillette, ASATT secretary Wendell Lai Hing and ASATT treasurer Gary Morales.

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