swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui, 18, world surprise and Tunisian pride

Wait, the head of mission of the Tunisian delegation has a call: ” mom ” Ahmed Ayoub Hafnaoui, he explains. It is around noon in Japan, and 4 a.m. in Tunisia, Sunday July 25. The family already knows. The child, or let’s say the very young man, is an Olympic swimming champion.

The swimmer is 18 years old and has a rather rare red and white swimming flag on his T-shirt. Especially at the moment of stepping on the podium. At a time ” surprised ” and ” very proud “, the sportsman especially amazed the competition in the final of the 400m freestyle (3’43”36), starting with that of the Australian Jack McLoughlin (3’43”52) and the American Kieran Smith ( 3’43”94). He started from plot 8, synonymous with the last time among the qualifiers. Here he is back with shorts, T-shirt, mask and gold medal.

Panic in the press gallery: but who is he? The high school student was already born, all the same, during Tunisia’s only Olympic medals in swimming so far. Osama Mellouli, a “Legend” for the néochampion, had won three long distance: one in Beijing in 2008 (gold over 1,500 meters), two in London in 2012 (gold over 10 kilometers and bronze over 1,500 meters).

“Congratulations to all the Tunisian people”

Four medals for Tunisia in swimming in the history of the Games. Seven for Zimbabwe, including two titles. Twelve for South Africa, including four titles. And that’s all. Response from the Tunisian: “In Africa, I think that if we do a lot of swimming pools, we will find a lot of champions. ” So far, Ahmed Ayoub Hafnaoui is still training in the country. Leading, he cites two pools with Olympic standards, in Tunis and Radès.

“A Tunisian-Tunisian product! “, jubile Mehrez Boussayene. The president of the Tunisian National Olympic Committee was at the finish line to accompany the medalist in front of the journalists. Very present to greet, in all solemnity, “A great success for Tunisian, Arab, African and Mediterranean sport”. As an aside, other members of the delegation make us understand that he alone will speak after the athlete.

So let’s listen to the inexhaustible former magistrate: “Congratulations to this young man, to Tunisia and to all the Tunisian people. It took a few good technicians to transform this rough diamond into an exceptional diamond. “

You have 40.9% of this article left to read. The rest is for subscribers only.