Olympic champion asks for “plan B” in Paris due to uncertainty with the Sena

RIO JANEIRO.- Will it be possible to swim in the Seine River? The uncertainty about the venue of some swimming events of the Paris Olympic Games worries the current Olympic champion in open water, the Brazilian Ana Marcela Cunha, who calls for a “plan B” that prioritizes the health of the athletes.

Five months before the long-distance swimming competitions, which will be held on August 8 and 9, organizers are still struggling to improve the water quality of the emblematic French river, which will also host the triathlon events.

The tests collected between last June and September showed concentrations of the two bacteria indicative of fecal contamination above – in several cases – the permitted levels, according to analysis by the Paris mayor’s office transmitted to AFP.

“Last year we did not have the test event for this reason, which is what worries us the most, because they insist on wanting to do it there,” said Cunha, considered one of the best athletes in her sport in history, in an interview with the AFP, at the end of a competition on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

“The history of Paris or the Seine is not going to be erased (by not doing the race there). We understand the value of the Alexandre III Bridge, of the Eiffel Tower,” through which the river passes. “There are several important points for them, but the health of the athlete comes first,” he adds.

Efforts to decontaminate can go to waste in the event of rain, because runoff from the streets can dirty the tributary again.

Despite the doubts surrounding the Seine, the charismatic swimmer with a tattooed body, born almost 32 years ago in the city of Salvador, in northeastern Brazil, focuses on the possibility of repeating the gold won in Tokyo in 2021.

Complex task in Paris:

The task does not seem easy in what will be his fourth Olympic participation and which he will reach with at least seven gold medals in world championships (five in 25 km events, two in 5 km) and 28 gold medals in World Cups.

In front they will have world or Olympic champions, such as the German Leonie Beck and the Dutch Sharon van Rouwendaal (gold in Rio).

But inspired by one of her favorite songs (“Days of mourning, days of glory”, by the Brazilian band Charlie Brown Jr.), a title that she has tattooed on her left arm, she warns that she will fight.

“You’re going to lose, you’re going to win, you’re going to fight, but you should never give up. I believe in that message a lot and I live that song every day.”