Finishing 11th at the Open Water World Championships in 2015, Anna Olasz’s dream of making the Hungarian Olympic team seemed to have ended after failing to place in the top 10 to move on to the second round of qualifications to advance to the Rio Olympics.
After a year of personal turmoil, the Arizona State swimmer learned that Russia had been doing central doping, forcing the International Olympic Committee to ban athletes from track and field, weightlifting and swimming.
One of the Russian athletes banned by the IOC was open water swimmer, Anastasia Krapivina.
Krapivina also happened to have placed ahead of Olasz at the World Championships, disqualifying herself and sending Olasz to the Rio de Janeiro Games.
“Everyone thinks that I was extremely happy when I found out I was going to the Olympics, but honestly my first feeling was anger,” said Olasz. “When I found out the Russian girl had been banned, I questioned why I spent my whole year upset and disappointed? I felt like they took a year away from me.”
A year ago, Olasz found herself devastated.
“I had a very rough year thinking I wasn’t going to the Olympics again,” said Olasz, after missing the 2012 London Summer Olympics four years prior. “I was preparing for Europeans which was in the middle of July, and it didn’t go the way I wanted so I was kind of stuck again. It was very hard mentally when I knew I was the very first person who was definitely not going to the Olympics.”
Shortly after missing the qualification for Rio last summer, Olasz had to immediately bounce back to start training for her collegiate season.
“Dealing with her emotional state last year at this time when she was told she was not making the Olympic team was rough on me, rough on her and rough on how I coached her,” said Arizona State Assistant Head Coach Dan Kesler. “It took about three months to get out her out of the emotional state of dealing with same thing happening as it did in 2012, yet again.”
With the support of her coach and teammates, Olasz was able to move on from her frustration and focus on her upcoming collegiate season.
Olasz’s work ethic continued to grow strong and stay motivated and driven toward her lofty goals as a marathon swimmer.
“Her work ethic on a daily basis is that of extreme professionalism. She comes in with a great attitude every day willing to work, and knows that she needs to work to accomplish her goals,” said Coach Kesler.
After Olasz’s Olympic debut she not only gained her confidence back, but she came back with valuable life lessons and bigger goals for the future.
“Never think that it’s over until it is actually over. I learned that in life and in my race, I should never think it’s over until I touch the touch pad, or it’s really over,” said Olasz.
Olasz went on to place 14th at the Rio Olympic Games.
Olasz will continue to train hard to make the 2020 Summer Olympic team and punch her ticket to the Tokyo Games.
Editor’s Note: Ms. Philapil is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.