Swimming

The most frantic nine hours of swimming in Tokyo

On Thursday, July 22, one day after the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games and two days after the competition opened at the Aquatic justify , Spanish swimming experienced nine frantic and dramatic hours, unknown to date, only suffered by the protagonists. Five swimmers were on the verge of not being able to compete due to a false positive from Jordi Jou, coach of CN Sant Andreu, who took more swimmers to the Japanese capital .

Jessica Vall, Joan Lluis Pons, Hugo González, Africa Zamorano and Lidón Muñoz landed in Japan ten days before. But they did not do it in Tokyo, but in Yamaguchi, where Spain built its preparation justify in the Olympic cycle. Along with them, Jou, Sean Kelly (technical director), José Ignacio González ‘Taja’ (Hugo’s coach) and one of the RFEN doctors. They all took a bullet train that Thursday to enter the Olympic village.

But 45 minutes into the journey, the two volunteers accompanying the expedition received a call from the Hiroshima laboratory. Jordi Jou had tested positive in the last saliva test. The protocols were activated . The coach had to leave the car with the swimmers and go to an empty one. They did an antigen test and it came back negative. The odyssey had only just begun, and so was the mental battle.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, five members of the organization waited for Jou and took him to a taxi ( “they took the wrong taxi, I was going in the direction of the airport, they realized it and I returned to the same point. The second taxi took me to the village” ) . The expedition forked. Jou went to the clinic of the Olympic village where he underwent a PCR with the company of the doctor of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) . You should wait three hours for the result.

Psychological work during the process

Meanwhile, the rest of the expedition went to the Nice Day Hotel, the COVID one. His arrival in Tokyo had not been as exciting as they expected. “We were sunk,” says Jessica Vall. At the entrance, the swimmers had to sign a paper that explained that they will have to stay between three and 14 days if Jou’s positive is confirmed . That would mean that swimmers like Pons, who was competing on Saturday, would miss the Games.

“It couldn’t happen. In Yamaguchi we were isolated, we took tests every day and the measures were very restrictive ” , thought Jou, who quickly called the psychologists who work with them. With Eva Molleja and Ana Merayo they made a video call for an hour and a quarter on the train to activate a plan B in case the positive was finally confirmed but allowed the athletes to compete. Everything was controlled.

Each swimmer, confined in his room, lived it in his own way, also in contact with the psychologists. There were nerves and video calls. Pons was calm and activated the stopwatch to deduct the time remaining to hear the news; Africa tried to relativize it until it did not know what the outcome was going to be; Vall cried and Lidón unleashed his tensions afterwards. Hugo González also waited expectantly until, at 22:00, a call from Jou reported that he had tested negative. Shouts and hugs at the COVID hotel . And the swimmers were able to return to the village. A silent and tense entry after nine dramatic hours less than two days before the start of the Games.

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