By REY BANCOD
NAY PYI TAW – Jasmine Alkhaldi was at the stands of the Wunna Theikdi Aquatic Center Friday morning, watching her teammates compete in the swimming heats of the 27th Southeast Asian Games.
If she was disappointed over the gold medal that she returned Thursday night, Jasmine did not show it.
She was all by her lonesome, tinkering with her I-Phone. She did complain about her hair which she said was too dry because of all the swimming.
Asked if she longs for the day that she would wake up not having to report for training, Jasmine replied: “All the time.”
What kept her going to the pool six hours a day?
“My love for swimming,” she grinned.
On Thursday, Jasmine rallied from third position to beat two Singapore rivals in the final of the women’s 100-meter freestyle event.
Coach Pinky Brosas marveled at how Jasmine swam.
“She was aggressive at the wall. Her turn was perfect. She did all the things right,” Brosas said.
The trouble was, according to the jury, there was a false start and ordered the holding of the event on Friday evening. The decision was arrived at hours after the medals had been awarded.
The jury upheld the protest of the Thai swimming team.
Thai officials complained that because of the confusion, their swimmers stopped and lost precious seconds as a result of what they thought was a false start.
Brosas said if there indeed was a false start, nobody moved a finger to stop the race.
“There’s a flag that is supposed to fall if there was a false start,” Brosas said.
Jasmine said there was a moment of hesitation, but continued to swim upon seeing the rest doing their thing.
“I have no idea what was going on,” she said.
Alkhaldi won by a tiny fraction of a second and was grinning from ear to ear when she accepted the gold medal.
Minutes later, Brosas broke the stunning news.
“Of course, Jasmine was disappointed but accepted the jury’s decision,” he said.
Brosas said they could have filed a protest, but decided not to.
“We didn’t want to antagonize them. Besides, there was no way the jury would reverse their decision,” he said. If there’s one thing that the episode proves is that Jasmine was made of sterner stuff.
“You see, Jasmine has been swimming against this bunch for 10 years and has not beaten them. It takes a lot of character to go out there and try beating them,” Brosas said.
Brosas said he believes that Jasmine can rise from this adversity and prove that her win was no fluke.