Vincentian swimmer Nikolas Sylvester gave his country much reason to smile on Thursday as he won his heat in the Men’s 50 metre freestyle at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
His performance, however, was not enough to take him to the next round of the competition.
Sylvester clocked a time of 25.64 seconds, 0.26 of a second ahead of Tindwendé Thierry Sawadogo of Burkina Faso.
Third place went to Albachir Moctar of Niger, who swam 26.56 seconds, while
Osman Kamara of Sierra Leone was fourth in 26.90 seconds.
Sylvester’s time placed him 61st among the 85 competitors in the event in which only the top 16 fastest athletes would advance.
At 16 years old, Sylvester was one of the youngest swimmers in the event.
He told reporters in Brazil that participating in the event felt “amazing”.
“I’m learning from my experience and I’m trying to prepare myself for other meets to come, for like 2020 in Tokyo. That’s my goal. This is just the starting point,” he said.
Sylvester said the Olympic Games are a “wonderful experience, especially the opening ceremony.
“It was the experience of a lifetime and to swim in front of so many people, it feels great,” he said.
Sylvester, who has just graduated from the St. Vincent Grammar School, has been the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Swimming Federation’s top male swimmer for the last several years.
He has represented SVG at numerous regional Swimming Championships as well as the Commonwealth Games, Pan Am Games and several World Championships.
Sylvester is one of two swimmers representing St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Rio2016.
In her Women’s 100 metre breaststroke on Sunday, 16-year-old Izzy Shné Joachim also failed to advance to the next round although she swam a personal best of 1:18.28.
Joachim is the SVG Swimming Federation’s top female swimmer, Carifta record holder and has recently won the 50 metre breaststroke in the Caribbean Swimming Championships in the Bahamas.
In a statement ahead of the games, the federation said: “These two youngsters are likely to be among the youngest swimmers at the Games and we understand that while they are unlikely to be medallists at these Olympics, they will do their best to represent SVG with pride and will put forward their very best efforts. Nik and Shné are gold medallists in our hearts.”