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Alkhaldi moves on after swim fiasco

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NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar, Dec. 15 -- Jasmine Alkhaldi clutched a pair of stuffed toys—owls, the official mascots of the 27th Southeast Asian Games - as she entered the athletes’ village Friday night.

 

The London Olympian held them so tight that nobody dared pry them from her grip.

“This serves as proof and reminder that I won the gold,” said the comely 20-year-old Filipino of Saudi descent.

Alkhaldi was forced to return the gold medal, her first in any international meet, in the women’s 100-meter freestyle after organizers upheld the protest of Thai officials that there was a false start and the race should be nullified.

The technical officials later ordered a re-swim even after Alkhaldi had been awarded the medal along with the stuffed toys and the Philippine flag raised at Wunna Theikdi swimming pool.

 

In the re-swim, she settled for the bronze behind winner Natthanan Thunkrajang of Thailand and Singapore’s Ting Wen Quah.

“I’m fine now. I think there’s a reason for everything. I have to move on and focus on my next events,” said Alkhaldi, whom Saudi Arabian social networks tagged as the third Saudi woman to compete in the Olympics.

Alkhaldi, who beat Singaporeans Ting and Xiang Qi Lim in the disputed race, can still get back at her rivals in the 50 and 200 free in the next two days. She earlier qualified in the finals of the 100 butterfly set late last night.

With the cruel twist, the Philippines lost a fourth gold in these Games. It would have been a first victory in the pool since 2009 Laos.

 

“This one they can’t take away from me,” said Alkhaldi, pointing to the beige owl stuffed toy on her left arm. Inquirer.net

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