Lydia Jacoby saves Team USA’s day in troubled Olympic waters – Orange County Register
TOKYO >> Like many families, the Jacobys of Seward, Alaska, who have a population of 2,773, have seen their 2020 summer vacation plans ruined by the pandemic.
Richard and Leslie Jacoby were planning to take their daughter Lydia, a promising teenage swimmer, to the Tokyo Olympics.
“We even got tickets,” said Lydia Jacoby.
As of Tuesday morning, Richard and Leslie still hadn’t arrived in Tokyo. Instead, they were at a lookout night in Orlando as Lydia Jacoby, now 17 and a new high school student, stood atop the medal podium, a gold medal around her neck, her right hand, purple nails and everything, over his heart, the all new and unlikely Olympic champion in the 100-meter breaststroke.
“I haven’t really dealt with the gold medal yet,” said Jacoby.
Indeed, the whole morning seemed blurry to him.
At the last corner, then with 25 meters remaining, then 10, then 5, the gold medal remained within the reach of three relentless women: Lilly King of Team USA, the reigning Olympic champion, South African Tatjana Schoenmaker , who set the Olympic daily record. earlier, and Jacoby, the daughter of sailboat captains on Alaska’s Resurrection Bay, named by a Russian trader in search of safe waters during a storm.
The three of them touched the wall and then turned to the dashboard, Jacoby’s reaction echoing that of the rest of the world.
“When I looked up and saw the dash, it was crazy,” she said.
Jacoby’s unexpected victory sparked celebrations in Orlando and an instantly viral victory in Seward and saved an otherwise difficult day for the U.S. team in the murky waters of Tokyo Aquatics Center on a Tuesday morning that included Russians venturing into it. which has been American territory for a quarter of a century.
“She had the swim of her life today,” King said, “and it was awesome, and we should totally celebrate that.”
Until the teenager’s late push to win gold, the United States had just two bronze medals in the morning’s three previous finals, two of which saw male sweeps, Britain in the 200 freestyle and Russia in the 100 backstroke.
Jacoby’s triumph also capped a morning at the Olympic swimming pool full of reminders of the absurdities of these Games and the people who organize them.
The session began with the public address announcer reading a public service announcement about wearing a mask and avoiding “clusters”. By this time, the pool deck was full of groups of athletes, many of whom were unmasked, from several countries. In fact, there is little social distancing on the streets, shops, and restaurants of Tokyo city. Athletes, officials and media are crammed into buses and venues like cattle, often within six inches, not six feet, of each other. Spectators have been banned from Olympic venues as part of an agreement between the Japanese government, Tokyo 2020, the local organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee. Yet last week, the city’s two professional baseball teams, the Yomiuri Giants and the Yakult Swallows, played in front of more than 10,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome indoor.
The IOC also insists on continuing with the comedy that the Russian athletes here do not represent Russia but the Russian Olympic Committee. The pretext is the result of the IOC’s attempt to compromise following a series of doping scandals in Russia. As if representing a National Olympic Committee that has run a state-sponsored systemic doping program for decades, and in the case of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, right under the nose of the IOC, was more respectable.
The Russian question, which promises to be ubiquitous in Olympic track and field competition next week, appeared at the pool with Evgeny Rylov and Kliment Kolesnikov’s 100 backstroke sweep.
“The Russians or the ROC or whatever we’re supposed to say,” said Ryan Murphy of the United States, reigning Olympic champion and world record holder in the event.
American swimmers own 13 of the last 14 world records set in this event and have won the last six Olympic gold medals. “I wouldn’t say there is rivalry,” Kolesnikov said. “We always watch them because they may be the strongest of all the teams.”
The Russians arrived in Tokyo with resumes full of inconsistent results. Rylov finished second in the 100 backstroke, first in the 200 backstroke at the 2019 World Championships, but was eighth at the European Championships earlier this year. Kolesnikov finished ninth at the 2019 Worlds and 16th at the recent Euros.
But the duo came out in Tuesday’s final, Kolesnikov leading the turn in 24.90 with Rylov by his side. Murphy was down 0.38. The American closed faster than the Russians but ran out of pool. Rylov hit the wall just ahead of Kolesnikov – 51.98 to 52.00 – to win the first Olympic swimming gold medal by a Russian man since 1996. Murphy took bronze in 52.30.
An hour later, the Russians stood on the first two steps of the medal podium as the ROC flag was raised and, instead of the national anthem, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 was played. over the loudspeakers of the arena, much to the amusement of followers of Russian culture. and politics. Russian President Vladimir Putin enacted a so-called anti-gay propaganda law in 2013. Putin signed a constitutional amendment in April defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. So there were more than a few smirks around the arena when the celebration of a Russian man’s first Olympic victory in a quarter of a century was accompanied by a play written by a gay composer.
“When you’re at the top of that podium, of course you want to hear your anthem,” Rylov said. “The situation is like that, you have to accept it. And that was maybe the best solution and it’s better than not being able to participate at all.
“God Save the Queen” is still played after the victories of Great Britain, although the DJ of the arena only seems to own the single version. Perhaps officials fear that participants will tire of the anthem if they play a longer edition.
Tom Dean and Duncan Scott followed Adam Peaty’s 100 breaststroke win on Monday by sweeping the 200 freestyle, Dean’s victory as narrow as Rylov’s. –1 minute, 44.22 seconds to 1: 44.26.
Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won the 100m backstroke with an Olympic record of 57.47, finishing just two hundredths of a second off the world record she set earlier this year. Canada’s Kylie Masse was second at 57.72. Regan Smith of the US team, which set the Olympic record in Monday’s semi-finals (57.86), won the bronze medal with 58.05.
Jacoby started swimming when he was little. His parents own a whale watching tour business. “They wanted me to be safe in the water,” she said.
She joined the local swim club at the age of 6 to run. “At first I did it as a fun thing to do with my friends,” Jacoby said.
At 12, she was state champion.
“It was then that I realized I was excellent in this area,” said Jacoby.
“A lot of famous swimmers come from big, powerful clubs,” she continued. “Me, coming from a small club, in a state with such a small population, really shows everyone that you can do it no matter where you are from. ”
Even as her swimming profile increased, she continued to divide her time between swimming and her role as double bass and vocals in the Snow River String Band, a bluegrass band. The group recently broke up because several of its members left for college.
Jacoby first met his idol, King, at a swim camp.
“We tried to recruit her,” said King, who attended Indiana. “But she’s going to Texas. I just wanted to help her as much as I could. Unfortunately, I helped him a little too much.
Indeed, the field should have seen the kid coming who competes for the Tsunami Swim Club. After finishing second to King at the US Trials last month, becoming the first swimmer from Alaska to make the US Olympic team, Jacoby clocked the second-fastest time in the Olympic series, the third in the half. final. On Tuesday she was third on the turn, 0.31 behind Schoenmaker and just three hundredths behind King. He also stayed close to the wall, the results weren’t obvious until they appeared on the scoreboard – Jacobby first in 1: 04.95. Schoenmaker was second in 1: 05.22 and King third in 1: 05.54.
“It was crazy,” Jacoby said. “I was definitely running for a medal. I knew I had it in me. I wasn’t really expecting a gold medal.
She still looked dazed during the medal presentation, hesitating at first before stepping onto the top step. Later, she began to grasp the enormity of the moment and its unlikely journey to that higher stage.
A year ago, Jacoby was the 18th fast 100-meter breaststroke in the United States. Eventually, Lydia and Leslie moved to Anchorage two hours away so Lydia could practice at a local high school. For a while they lived in the house of his recently deceased grandfather. Eventually, the house was sold and the mother and daughter moved to an Airbnb.
“It’s been an amazing year and this extra year (has helped me) and it’s such a difficult year for the whole world,” she said, “I think it means a little more to be here today and to be an Olympian and to be part of the world that comes together again after everything he’s been through, that means a lot.