Long and winding road finally takes
Holzner to the Olympics
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[August 01, 2019]
By Steve Keating
LIMA (Reuters) - For almost every
athlete the road to Olympics is a long and winding path negotiated
over years if not decades, a physically and emotionally exhausting
journey to a sporting Shangri La.
Canadian syncronised swimmer Claudia Holzner completed such a
journey on Wednesday -- twice.
By taking gold in the Pan Am Games artistic swimming duet with
Jacqueline Simoneau, Holzner claimed a ticket to her first Olympics.
A few hours later, she was back in the Centro Aquatico Villa
Deportiva Nacional pool for the team competition and reached the top
spot on the podium for a second time to help ensure Canada would be
represented at the Tokyo Games next year.
After the duet, Holzner said she had no words to describe her joy
and there were indeed none required with the look on her face saying
The gold medal hanging around her neck felt wonderful, she said, but
there was something more precious.
"For me it is the Olympics," smiled Holzner, with a genuine
"I have been training on the national team for seven years now and
to be able to say I am going to the Olympics is amazing.
"It's been a long road."
The last few weeks have been especially busy with Holzner and
Simoneau competing on two continents at the world swimming
championships in South Korea and at the Pan Am Games in Lima with
only a quick one-night stopover in Montreal inbetween.
If the past few days have been a whirlwind, the last four years have
dragged for Holzner.
The 25-year-old thought she had realised her Olympic dream when
Canada won the team competition at 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto only
for that spot to be awarded to Brazil as hosts.
Canada was put back in a second-chance pool at the repechage but
again there was only utter despair as they missed out on an Olympic
spot by .70 of a point.
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Canada's Jacqueline Simoneau and Claudia Holzner celebrate with
their gold medals on the podium during the medal ceremony for the
Duet Free Routine Finals. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Simoneau, who qualified for Rio in the duet with another partner,
and Holzner are the only two members of that squad still competing.
"It's hard to talk about, it was heartbreaking and took another four
years to get here," said Holzner.
"Four years is a long time, there were definitely moments I'm not
going to lie it wasn't easy there was two years where I thought what
I am doing here and then this year was make it or break it.
Both athletes are likely to pull double duty in Japan.
Holzner and Simoneau left nothing to chance in the duet and, coming
off a seventh place finish at the worlds, posted their best score of
the season of 180.03 -- almost six full points ahead of silver
Canada were no less dominant in the team competition with a winning
mark of 179.6 leaving Mexico well back again. The U.S. took the
bronze with a futuristic robot routine that has generated
considerable buzz in the syncro world.
"Even though this is my third Pan Am medal it feels like my first, I
am just so excited," said Simoneau.
"We prepared our entire year for this moment."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)
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