Starlet Boki continues writing Paralympic legacy

Belarusian teenager wins fourth gold medal of London 2012, with the promise of more to come. 04 Sep 2012
Ihar Boki

Ihar Boki of Belarus has won four medals at London 2012, with potentially more to come.

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By “I was really motivated by breaking my own world record, not so much by the medals.”

Belarus swimming prodigy Ihar Boki is rapidly developing into one of the brightest stars of the London 2012 Games.

The teenager has won five medals already, four of them gold, and has torn up a host of world records in the process. With two races still to come, he is expected to be gracing the Aquatics Centre podium again before the end of the week.

Still just 18 years old and making his Paralympic debut, Boki has wowed the London crowds with his speed over a range of different strokes. On Tuesday night (4 September), he blew rest of the field away in the 400m freestyle S13, his favoured event.

Boki went into the race having already clinched gold in the 100m backstroke, 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly, to go alongside a silver in the 50m freestyle.

He had broken four world records in the process, but on Tuesday, he took his London 2012 Paralympic Games to a new level.

After setting another world record in his morning semi-final, Boki then promised reporters that he would “show them something spectacular” in the evening.

He didn’t disappoint.

The first two lengths saw him challenged strongly by rival Charles Bouwer of South Africa, and the Russian swimmer Stepan Smagin. Bouwer had finished second to Boki in both the 100m backstroke and and 100m freestyle, though the South African can claim being the only man to better the Belarusian swimmer at these Games, edging him out in the 50m freestyle.

A repeat victory in Boki’s preferred event never looked likely by the third turn, with the power and technique that the teenager has displayed throughout the games becoming more apparent.

By that stage he had a lead that he would not only maintain, but would extend considerably. By the time he had finished in 3mins 58.78, he had knocked another four seconds off the world record mark he had set in the morning, and was a full seven seconds ahead of his nearest rival, the silver medalist Danylo Chufarov of Ukraine. Aleski Golintovskii took the bronze, with Bouwer this time having settle for fifth place.

The post-race focus, however, was all on youngster Boki, who remarkably, claimed that better is still to come.

“It was great,” he said. “I would have liked to swim faster though, I think I could go faster.

“I was really motivated by breaking my own world record, not so much by the medals.”

Boki is now certain to received a hero’s welcome on his return to Belarus at the culmination of the games.

“I think everyone will be waiting for me,” he added. “My family are all very proud of me.”

Boki had maintained in the build-up that his biggest rival was “the water and the flow – I fight with myself”. It was a battle that he clearly won.

And with the 110m breaststroke and 200m individual medal still to come, there is the very definite possibility that Boki could be writing extra chapters to an already impress Paralympics legacy before the end of the week.