Sports

Ranomi the 'underdog'

Dutch star insists she's fit to defend sprint titles, but sees Australia's Campbell sisters as the favourites

Reigning Olympic 50m and 100m freestyle champion Ranomi Kromowidjojo says a recent back trouble is no threat to her hopes of a Rio repeat, but Australia's Campbell sisters - Cate and Bronte - are.

"I had a little bit of pain in my lower back, but the media blew it all up," the 25-year-old Dutch star said yesterday morning (Singapore time) after training at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium.

She said reports she had damaged a spinal disk in a weight training session were unfounded.

"It wasn't an injury, it was just a case of having to be careful, it was just an irritation. I'm fine and feeling really good, great, and really looking forward to racing," she said.

Even so, Kromowidjojo said, she doesn't consider herself the favourite to defend her titles, with Cate Campbell topping the times this year in both events - and with a world record of 52.06 seconds to boot in the 100m free.

Kromowidjojo is right behind the elder Campbell sister in the 50m world rankings, but it's Bronte Campbell who owns the second-fastest 100m time of 2016, with Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom third-quickest this season.

"I don't consider myself the favourite," Kromowidjojo said.

"Cate Campbell, her little sister and Sarah Sjostrom are really strong swimmers, but I'm sure I'm going to fight for the gold medals."

Kromowidjojo reflected on the fame her London triumphs had brought, which, she said, "completely changed my life".

"Of course I'd already achieved some success before then but, after London, the madness began," she said.

"People in Holland and the media went really crazy. People suddenly saw me as a famous person and you have to deal with that.

DIP IN FORM

"I'm not scared of being a celebrity, but it's not my goal. I'm a swimmer. If I'd wanted to be famous, I'd have done 'Idols' or something like that.

"It's not my goal. You have to live with it, but that's fine."

Coach Patrick Pearson said the multitude of demands took much of the joy out of the sport for Kromowidjojo, leading to a dip in form.

"What I saw was someone who had difficulty balancing her private life with the motivation she needed to swim fast in the pool," he said.

"That's the reason that after two years she was in a real dip, at her lowest point.

"She needed to find more fun in swimming again because she lost all the fun, and rediscovering that feeling helped a lot."

Even so, Kromowidjojo said, expectations can weigh heavily.

"People in Holland want to see me win the golds, but it's not easy," she said.

"It's harder than ever." - AFP.

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