Girl, 10, makes waves in world swimming meet
Alzain Tareq describes competing against adults at the world championships as “cool”.
Her idols are swimming stars Cate Campbell and Sarah Sjostrom.
And she’s only 10 years old.
The Bahraini caused a splash at the World Championships in Kazan, Russia, on Friday morning (Aug 7) when she raced in the women’s 50m butterfly heats.
The tiny Middle Eastern schoolgirl finished last in her heats after swimming 41.13 seconds, nine behind the heats winner.
She is believed to be the youngest swimmer to have ever swum at a world championships.
Overall, she was 15secs off the fastest time of 25.43 secs, set by Sjostorm, the 100m world record-holder, who swam in a later heats.
Alzain was last of the 64 competitors who raced in the event.
Alzain Tareq (in blue) and Rita Zeqiri of Kosovo leave the pool after their heats. PHOTO: REUTERS
She caused a stir in the media mixed zone as reporters clamoured to interview the pint-sized swimmer, who coped admirably with the television cameras’ glare and answered all questions in crystal-clear English.
“I’m happy, I feel so happy. It was really cool,” she beamed when asked what it was like to swim against adults here.
Swimming’s governing body Fina has confirmed there is currently no age restriction on swimmers competing at either a world championships or an Olympics Games.
So the Bahrain schoolgirl, who is her country’s fastest swimmer, has a clear goal, one year from Rio de Janeiro 2016: “I want to swim at the Olympics.”
Britain’s Fran Halsall, one of the favourites for a 50m butterfly medal, was surprised someone so young was racing.
“I don’t know what to make of it – she’s dinky (tiny). Good on her for having a go,” said the English swimmer, who was fifth fastest in qualifying for Friday night’s semi-finals.
Alzain is also competing in Saturday’s (Aug 8) 100m freestyle heats and was pleased to have met her heroes in Kazan.