Top Trinidad and Tobago swimmer George Bovell said his bronze medal at the FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships was "vindicating" after a year of some disappointments.
On Sunday, Bovell returned to the discipline that brought him his Athens Olympic bronze medal to win this country's first ever World Championship medal in swimming.
The 29-year-old grabbed bronze in the Men's 100 metres individual medley (IM) in Istanbul, Turkey. Bovell viewed the bronze medal swim with more of a sense of relief after he missed out on a medal by a fingernail in the 50m freestyle Friday.
"I had been fourth and fifth too many times in my career. It was especially vindicating tonight for me, after this whole year with the Olympics, World Cup, to come here and cap it off with a World Championship medal just like I said I wanted to. Unfortunately I was not able to clinch one in the 50 (m freestyle), missing by .04, leaving me absolutely gutted, so there was extra pressure on me to win a medal tonight, and I am very proud of myself if I do say so for the way I kept fighting back," the four-time Olympian said.
Bovell came good in the IM, an event considered the most all-round in swimming and which includes one lap each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Back in 2004, Bovell splashed to a bronze in the 200m IM at the Athens Olympics.
Bovell splashed to a 51.66 seconds timing, the same clocking he recorded in the semifinals to get the bronze behind USA's Ryan Lochte (51.21) and Australia's Kenneth To (51.38). Bovell believed an extended season took the sting out of his tail as his top times during the FINA/Arena World Cup series would have been good for a silver and gold in the 50m freestyle and the 100m IM respectively in Turkey.
"The season has been a long one, and the way it has taken its toll on me here was evident. I was not able to match my top form from the World Cups, the times which would have come second in the 50m free (20.82) and first in the IM (51.20). It's just that I think my season was too long. I was taking on too much. That's the way it goes sometimes, you need to accept early on that it won't come easy and steel yourself for the hard fight to come. That's what it boiled down to tonight (Sunday). All in all, I am extremely satisfied and relieved."
The multiple Pan American and Central American and Caribbean (CAC) medallist's bronze added to Jamaica's Alia Atkinson's double silver exploits in the Women's 50m and 100m breaststroke tallied three medals for the Caribbean swimmers, marking the region's best medal haul at a single World or Olympic event.
After racking up 16 medals (seven gold, nine silver) during the World Cup series that ended last month, Bovell will now proceed to Russia for a swim meet there from December 20-22 before he comes home for Christmas and "a much needed rest".