With the towel knotted around the neck, 'reggaeton' in the headphones and three caps on the head (one for the hair, another for the glasses and another to hold them tight), Mireia Belmonte will jump in eight months the pool of the Aquatic Center of Tokyo with the opportunity to become the most successful Spanish Olympic of all time. Of the eight metals that Spanish swimming has achieved in the history of the Games, half turn on Mireia's neck. There are four, the same as Saúl Craviotto and one less than David Cal. After Rio's dream gold, the challenge for the Badalonese swimmer is twofold: to get the fifth medal and be the first woman to revalidate the victory in the 200 butterfly.
They will be the fourth Games for Belmonte. The Catalan debuted in Beijing 2008 with her first semifinal in 200 styles, premiered her Olympic record with two silver in London 2012 (200 butterfly and 800 free) and added two other metals in Rio 2016, gold in her fetish test and a bronze in The 400 styles.
Now Belmonte is seeking redemption after a complicated year and a half, which began in June 2018 with that episode of vertigo for which he had to give up the Glasgow European . The problem, without a fixed recovery period, forced her to five months of unemployment that have been hampering her performance throughout 2019.
The badalonesa could not start the season until January and has gone all year round a step behind what she needed, as was clear this summer. His performance in the Gwangju World Cup was as disappointing as that of the rest of the Spanish team: he played only two finals of six possible, those of 800 and 1500 free (the second, thanks to the loss of Ledecky), and in the last two .
However, a week later, at the World Cup in Tokyo , three medals were hung, including a bronze in the 400-meter styles that placed her in fourth place in the season's world ranking. A mark (4: 34.47) that he had not seen since the 2017 World Cups and that reduced in eight seconds the one he had made only a week earlier in South Korea, where he did not even manage to pass the preliminary cut.
Something similar happened in the previous Olympic cycle, when a shoulder bursitis disrupted its preparation only one year after the Games. That mishap, with less room for recovery, had a brilliant end, so there is no reason to think that in Tokyo you can not get into the fight for the medals, but you must refine the times, especially in the shortest tests, where You still need to recover the spark.
The evolution of its results leaves the feeling that Fred Vergnoux's disciple has run out of season. In October the gold was hung in the 800 free of the test of the Budapest World Cup and in December, in the Swim Cup in Amsterdam, the harvest was three golds, a bronze and the first Olympic minimum.
The appointment in the Netherlands was the first of three bullets that Spanish swimmers will have to make Olympic minimum. After the shock of Gwangju, where it was necessary to make a repesca, the Federation was foresight when looking for tickets. The other two tests, which will condition the calendar, will be the Spanish Open in April and the European one in May.
Belmonte already has the minimum for 1,500 free , the novelty in the Tokyo Olympic program. But despite the extra fatigue that such a demanding test will entail, the Catalan woman maintains her aspiration to compete with her usual program: the 400, 800 and 1,500 free, the 200 and 400 styles and the 200 butterfly, where she already has two medals and where aspires to be the first woman to revalidate the title.
Not only will you have to keep tuning the times, but you'll also have to adapt to the Tokyo 2020 competition schedules, where the finals are scheduled for the morning . It is something that already lived in Beijing 2008 and that you must take care of, because neither the body works the same, neither rest nor food will be the same. Details that, as she confesses, are learned to attend with the experience.
Mireia will arrive in Tokyo with 29 years, an age that once seemed high for a swimmer but, as she remembers, rivals such as Katinka Hosszu or Federica Pellegrini have changed the perception of how long it can be held on top.
He will welcome the new year in Pretoria, South Africa, where he will repeat the two-week concentration he did before London 2012 and Rio 2016. Like the towel around his neck, like those nails with Swarovski crystals in Berlin, if it worked, why Don't repeat it
They will be the fourth Games for this Catalan descendant of Andalusian emigrants, who began swimming with four years on the recommendation of the doctor to correct a scoliosis . Waiting to see in what the irruptions of Hugo González and Alba Vázquez materialize, Mireia Belmonte will go to Tokyo 2020 as the great bastion of our swimming. And who knows if it will come out as the most successful Spanish Olympic in history.
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