Fifteen-year-old Aleka Persaud is the youngest of seven athletes who will represent Guyana at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
Though it is no surprise for a teenager to qualify for the quadrennial event, Aleka’s ascension as Guyana’s swimming representative caught most off guard, owing to an International Swimming Federation (FINA) stipulation, that indicates the fastest male and female swimmer should represent the country.
“I was shocked at first. After I heard my colleague was going to the Olympics but then FINA stated that the fastest Guyanese swimmer must represent at the Olympics. After that information, I was very excited, I started running and jumping all around the house,” Persaud said, as she recollected on her reaction to receiving the news about her universality spot, in order to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
The CARIFTA Gold medalist departed Guyana on Sunday for a two-week FINA training camp, that will lead up to the Tokyo Games.
Speaking to the media over the weekend, the teenager talked about the personal significance of the achievement and the support that has led her to this stage.
“It means a lot. I’ve been training hard for the past few years, just for this moment. It is a dream come through to attend the Olympics this year,” the teenager expressed.
“Everyone has been behind me. I have my sponsors, my family; my mom is really behind me, she always pushes me past my limit. My dad is in the sport, so he expects everything out of me, so I will make them proud when I attend the Olympics.”
Though excited about representing Guyana at her first Olympic Games, Persaud is focused on attaining some goals.
“I want to improve, by God’s grace, improve on my 28.10s (personal best time) in the 50m freestyle,” Persaud explained.
Aleka, along with Andrew Fowler will represent Guyana in Swimming. Meanwhile, table tennis player Chelsea Edghill, Boxer Keevin Allicock and track athletes Emmanuel Archibald, Aliyah and Jasmine Abrams make up the remainder of the Guyanese athletes who will participate in the July 23 to August 8 event.