When Sylvia Tanya Atieno Brunlehner hits the water in Singapore on Wednesday, she will become Kenya’s first youth Olympic swimmer to compete at an Olympics.
This achievement is not lost on the 16-year-old freestyler who boasts several national swimming records and hold some of the country’s fast times since she was 12 years old.
“I’m really proud,” Sylvia said after training at the Singapore Sports School on sunday. It’s exciting to be here because many other Kenyans don’t get this chance.”
This however is not the first time for Sylvia to don the national team colours. She made her international debut for Kenya in 2005 in the Zambia International Swimming Championships.
She has swam for Kenya at the world swimming Championships in Italy, at two Africa Championships, the All Africa Games in Algeria as well as the Youth Commonwealth Games in India.
The 16-year old who was not a keen swimmer five years ago, is looking to gain from the experience of competing at such a high level championship. “Hopefully am looking to make the semifinals, because the finals is too tough when I compare our times with most of the competitors.”
Sylvia will contest the youth women’s 50m backstroke and 50m-freestyle at the Youth Games before she turns her focus to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.
“I’ve been training for this event mainly and then I’ll start training for the Commonwealth Games when I get home.”
Sylvia will team up David Buruchara who will compete in the men’s 50m and 100m-freestyle. Unlike Sylvia, he will be making his international debut for Kenya at a global event. “Ill give it my best and see how far my abilities can take me and hopefully get onto the semifinals,” he said after his days training session.
The team is coached by Zack Musembi believes the exposure the swimmers will get will push them to improve on their personal bests. “It is quite a good experience because we are meeting athletes from top swimming countries which will help my swimmers post some very good times on the Africa map.”
The two swimmers are part of Kenya’s team of 10 that is competing at the first ever Youth Olympic Games that officially kicked off on Saturday. Some 3,600 athletes aged 14-18 are competing in the 12-day event. The athletes from 205 countries will compete in 25 events, which are all in the Summer Olympics as well as other exciting new events like 3-on-3 basketball, head to head canoe and Kayak as well as cycling combined.