Political Promises, Precious Metals and Pleasant Dreams

via SPED magazine by Gerard Best and Mark Pouchet

Reflections from Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic Swimmer

Trinidad and Tobago's Olympic Bronze Medalist swimmer is hoping that a return to familiar surroundings brings a return to the world’s most prestigious medal rostrum.

Former World Record Holder, George Bovell III, has shifted the venue of his training base to Trinidad, the Caribbean island where he was born and he’s joined forces once more with his old mentor, Anil Roberts, the current Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs. Bovell described Roberts as "simply the best man for the job" of Sport Minister.

He credits Roberts with guiding him to the 2004 Athens Olympic bronze in the 200m individual medley (IM). This time around, in London 2012, Bovell will look to match his medalling effort of Athens 2004. And although his specialty has changed—he has moved his focus to the sprint freestyles 50m and 100m—he wants to go two spots better on the medal podium.

"You never do it to come fourth, or second for that matter," he said.

According to Bovell, his change of venue, training base and coach came about because of his unimpressive times during this year. Auburn, Alabama has been conceded for Port of Spain, Trinidad; Brett Hawke for Roberts. It was Bovell’s poor patch of form in the pool this year that led him to withdraw from the Commonwealth Games, which, he said,  "just simply came at a bad time, which was right between the summer racing season and my next big competition, the World Championships in Dubai this coming December".

Heading toward the winter of his career (Bovell will be 28 in 2012), the five-time Pan Am Games Medalist will be striving for a final performance worthy of his very successful career to date. But, will the next Olympics be his last?

"There are times when I am certain that it will be my last, but yet on great days where it all comes together, I imagine my swimming career after," he said. "I have no retirement plans as of yet, but I will need to start putting things in place. I would love to stay involved in sport in which every way I can to give back."

Whenever and wherever Bovell decides to hang up his goggles, he hopes Roberts, in his capacity as Minister of Sport, will complete the National Aquatic Centre that was promised since 2003.

"We should have it in the next two years. I used to think it would one day be the George Bovell Memorial Pool, but I am confident in the current administration's ability to get the job done," he said. "I think there is a lot of potential and I am confident that our current Minister of Sport will do everything in his power to improve sport and the lives of young people."

Bovell’s training for London is already under progress, and his routine looks pretty hardcore.

"(I am) taking it one day at a time, that's the only way. You have to focus on what you can do right now, right here, today, right now, otherwise it becomes too daunting. Right now, I am working on improving my strength, speed, range of motion and endurance, as well as technique. I swim in the mornings six days a week at 6 for two hours then return in the afternoon three or four days a week to lift weights for two hours, followed by heading to the pool to work on speed and power. It’s a full time job!" he exclaimed.

But to snag precious metal takes more than militant routine, raw speed and brute force. Bovell will be using the experience of three previous Olympics, including his fondest memory of the bronze-medal Athens Olympics, to propel him to his desired outcome.

"It's always a work in progress and you must always be trying to learn from your mistakes. No performance is perfect; there are always mistakes to learn from. The Olympics are incredibly stressful! London will be my fourth and I believe because of this I will be better equipped to handle the stress, because of the experience gained from my past Olympiads," he reasoned.

Reflecting on Athens, Bovell said that he surprised himself with that swim that saw him finish behind two of the world’s top swimmers, the USA's Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. In fact, he waxed poetic.

"It's very rare but once in a while there is a race where you are able to feel unbridled energy coursing through your body at the exact instant that it is needed most.  It is a feeling of being truly alive, but yet hard to remember, as if trying to remember the fleeting joy of a pleasant dream."

Bio Stats

Name: George Bovell III

Country: Trinidad and Tobago

Height: 6' 5"

D.O.B: July 18th 1983

Weight: 205 lbs

World Ranking: 4th in 50M Free (21.20)

  • Trinidad and Tobago Chaconia Gold and Humming Bird Gold
  • Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee Sportsman of the year and Athlete of the year
  • Olympic Bronze Medalist
  • Former World Record Holder
  • Five-time Pan Am Games Medalist (2 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze)
  • Four-time World Championship Finalist
  • Five-time Individual NCAA Champion
  • Eight-time Individual SEC Champion
  • Two-time Caribbean and Central American Champion and record holder, 2

silver, 2 bronze

  • Former NCAA Record Holder
  • Most All-American Honors in Auburn History with 25
  • Multiple Caribbean and Central American Record Holder
  • Four-time NCAA Team Champion
  • Undefeated in college swimming career

Mark Pouchet has been a sports reporter with the Trinidad Express for 10 years, with the area of swimming and aquatic sports being his main portfolio. He has covered the exploits of George Bovell III extensively, from his age-group days all the way up to the top T&T swimmer's national and international achievements.