Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : Smith Conquers Self-Doubt to Regain Backstroke World Record 

Regan Smith of the United States looks on after setting a world record in the Women's 100m backstroke final on Day Four of the 2024 US Olympic Team Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium on June 18, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images/AFP)
Regan Smith of the United States looks on after setting a world record in the Women's 100m backstroke final on Day Four of the 2024 US Olympic Team Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium on June 18, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Smith Conquers Self-Doubt to Regain Backstroke World Record 

Regan Smith of the United States looks on after setting a world record in the Women's 100m backstroke final on Day Four of the 2024 US Olympic Team Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium on June 18, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images/AFP)
Regan Smith of the United States looks on after setting a world record in the Women's 100m backstroke final on Day Four of the 2024 US Olympic Team Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium on June 18, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Getty Images/AFP)

Regan Smith was so riddled with self-doubt the American thought her days of breaking backstroke records were gone for good, but after learning to tame her emotions she is once again on top of the world.

Smith said on Tuesday that the newfound sense of belief in herself was key to regaining a 100m backstroke world record she set in 2019 as a 17-year-old.

"It's confidence all the way," she told reporters after clocking a sizzling 57.13 at the US Olympic trials to slash 0.2 seconds off Australian Kaylee McKeown's mark.

"I've always had it physically. I've always had like a God-given natural ability to swim backstroke but I just never believed in myself ever and that's always going to be a work-in-progress."

In contrast to the highs of setting a world record in Indianapolis on Tuesday, Smith said her lowest point came at trails for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

"I just didn't want to be there. I wasn't excited. I had no faith in myself," she said.

"I wanted other people to do it because I thought that they were going to be better at doing it than I was."

That all began to change when she started working with a sports psychologist in October last year. The 22-year-old said she has seen steady improvement in her mental health and performances ever since.

"What I really struggle with is separating emotion from logic, and I think the best of the best, they are able to stay logical in the hardest times," she said.

"Because when logic goes out the door and emotion comes in, that's when you choke, and I did that over and over because I just let my emotions take over."

Despite her struggles she still managed to pick up three Olympic medals in Tokyo.

Now brimming with confidence, Smith said she is eager for the showdown with McKeown in Paris where she believes she can break her own record and get her hands on her first Olympic gold medal.

"I'm not going to sell myself short, absolutely not," she said.

"That was an amazing race but it wasn't a perfect race. I know there's things that I can clean up and do better, and I'm going to work towards that."



Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : IOC, Saudi Arabia Agree on 12-year Deal for Video Gaming Esports Olympics

A general view of Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia, February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour
A general view of Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia, February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour
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IOC, Saudi Arabia Agree on 12-year Deal for Video Gaming Esports Olympics

A general view of Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia, February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour
A general view of Riyadh city, Saudi Arabia, February 20, 2022. REUTERS/Mohammed Benmansour

Saudi Arabia and the IOC are teaming up for their first commercial deal together with the kingdom set to host the Esports Olympics that launch next year.

The gaming partnership will be for 12 years “with Olympic Esports Games held regularly,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement Friday.

The announcement was made during the two-month Esports World Cup being staged in Riyadh, The AP reported.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal said the country “has become a global hub for professional esports.”

"This is a natural next step for our young athletes, our country and the global esports community,” said Prince Abdulaziz, who also heads the Saudi national Olympic committee.

The IOC said last month it planned to launch video gaming Olympics to try to attract and retain young fans and audiences.