Dublin 2018: Israel Oliver optimistic for Euros

Paralympic champion back in the pool after injury recovery 10 Aug 2018
By IPC

“I am working with a new coach. He has a different way of working compared to my previous coach but I am feeling really well, slowly getting better from the injury and very good psychologically.”

Israel Oliver seems to have left behind the most difficult moment in his career. The Spanish swimmer was getting ready to compete at his fifth World Championships last year, when he suffered a bad injury on his right arm.

As a result, he missed Mexico City 2017 and had to start a long recovery process.

Fortunately, he is already back in the pool training hard for next week’s Allianz European Championships in Dublin, Ireland (13-19 August).

“I am just returning so I have decided lowering my personal bests is not my priority ahead of Dublin 2018,” the 30-year-old said.

“My goal is to better my performance from Funchal 2016, where I claimed one gold and one silver. Therefore, I want to win two golds in Dublin.”

Oliver will compete in the men's 100m breaststroke SB11, 200m individual medley SM11 and 100m butterfly S11.

“I am working with a new coach. He has a different way of working compared to my previous coach but I am feeling really well, slowly getting better from the injury and very good psychologically.”

Out of all his opponents, Oliver believes Ukraine´s six-time Paralympic champion Viktor Smyrnov is the strongest. “He is a great swimmer who has been reaching the podium at each competition for several years,” said Oliver.

“Besides, there are new young swimmers who are beginning to stand out. I have to pay attention to them because they are improving each year and may change how the medals table looks like.”

Future goal

Once the Europeans are over, Oliver will focus on the 2019 World Championships in Malaysia, where he hopes to “have recovered fully from my injury and be much stronger than I am now before Dublin 2018.

“In Malaysia I want to win medals but also to lower my times. I imagine myself winning my third world title. That is my clear objective and I am working towards it.”

Paralympic dream

It took four Paralympic Games for Oliver to finally top the podium. He then did it twice; in the 100m butterfly S11 and 200m individual medley SM11 at Rio 2016.

“To win those medals was such a relief for me. It was like taking out a bag full of stones that I was accumulating from each Games I could not win a medal at,” he explained.

“Throughout my career I had had issues controlling my nerves. I could have really good performances during my practices, but when competing I got nervous and under-performed. Therefore, all that previous training was pointless because I then got blocked.

“I could control them in Rio, where I put what I learned into practice and could finally show how prepared I was.”

With two years to go until Tokyo 2020, Oliver dreams of repeating such a performance.

“We are halfway through to the 2020 Paralympic Games. They are every athlete´s final objective. I want to win my third gold. I will fight for that.”

Dublin 2018 is Ireland’s first major Para sport event with 400 athletes from 37 countries competing at the 2,500-seater National Aquatics Centre.

Visit the Paralympics Ireland website to buy tickets for the World Para Swimming Allianz European Championships.