Germany’s Sebastian Iwanow, 26, is predicting a three horse race for gold between himself, Ukraine’s relative new-comer, 17-year-old Yevheniy Bohodayko and the experienced Anders Olsson, 45, of Sweden at next month’s IPC Swimming European Championships in Berlin, Germany.
Although there are 28 years between their ages, there are just milliseconds between them in the pool and for Iwanow’s favoured event, the 100m Freestyle, they all have the same personal best time of 1:07.
“Anders Olsson and Yevheniy Bohodayko will be my main opponents,” said Iwanow. “We respect each other a lot.”
At last year’s World Championships in the Netherlands, Iwanow took 100m freestyle gold, but has since slipped into third place in the IPC Swimming world rankings behind his younger and older rivals.
Iwanow is motivated to take gold in Berlin and is training up to 20 hours a week.
“I will reach my targets regardless of the expectations of others,” he said.
Iwanow will also be competing against Olsson and Bohodayko in the 50m Freestyle, 400m Freestyle and 100m Backstroke.
The three athletes come from very different backgrounds.
Iwanow was born without shin caps or knees and began swimming competitively from the age of 10.
Olsson was paralysed from the waist down and was bedridden for seven years after a series of medical accidents in the late 90s. It was only when an old friend challenged him to swim in a 3km open water race in 2002 that he rose from his bed.
Yevheniy Bohodayko, is in comparison a relative new comer having debuted at World Championships in 2010 with one gold, two silver and two bronze medals. .
Around 450 athletes from 37 countries are competing at the IPC Swimming European Championships in what will be one of the last major international gathering of swimmers before the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Other top athletes include Ukraine’s Maksim Veraksa, the fastest Para-swimmer in the world, and Italy’s schoolgirl swimming superstar Cecilia Camellini.