Two weeks ago, World Aquatics (formerly FINA) and the IOC announced that men would allowed to compete in the Olympic Games in the artistic swimming team events starting in 2024.
As the news broke, we heard from Giorgio Minisini, Quentin Rakotomalala, Kenny Gaudet, Ivan Martinovic and Renaud Barral to hear their initial reactions.
Check out what more male artistic swimmers from around the world and across age groups had to say to us or their local news about what this first step towards the inclusion of men in the Olympic Games meant to them.
- Dennis Gonzalez Boneu (18, Spain) – Three-time World junior champion, seven-time European junior champion
“Obviously, my first reaction was, ‘Wow, it’s real, it’s not a dream.’ What I thought was impossible became possible. I’ve always dreamed of this, and I’ve worked hard for this moment. Now that it has become a reality, it gives me even more strength to fight for a spot on the team and to go to the Olympics. I want to show what men can do and bring to artistic swimming.”
- Filippo Pelati (15, Italy) – World junior bronze medalist, four-time European junior medalist
“When I read this news, I was in disbelief. I was very happy because it is a big step for all our community to recognize equal rights for men and women in a sport that was only for girls in people’s minds. Men can contribute a lot within the team events because they’re strong for the highlights, and with this addition you will be able to experiment much more with the choreography. Now, my expectations for my future also changed. It’s time for me to improve inside of the team. What a chance to catch up with the girls and understand what it’s like to swim in a routine I’ve never swam before! And I sincerely hope to see mixed duet included in the future at the Olympics too.”
- Ranjuo Tomblin (17, Great Britain) – Two-time European junior medalist
“When I heard the news, I almost couldn’t believe it. It has been something all us boys had hoped and dreamed for. It now gives us a new perspective and new goals that we can now work towards. Now, let’s keep on hoping for the inclusion of mixed duets!”
- Diego Villalobos (17, Mexico) – Junior Pan American silver medalist, World Junior Championships finalist
“When I saw the news, I got a great feeling of motivation. I really believed that men would not participate in the Olympic Games until at least 2028, so seeing that news motivated me a lot. Of course, now I hope to be able to participate in the team routines. I will try my hardest to achieve this goal.”
- Chris Niehaus (13, Canada) – Youth national team member
“I was excited because I feel that I have a chance to go to the Olympics if I keep up my hard work. It’s pretty motivating. Ever since I was little, we always had the Olympics on (TV) whenever it was live, or even recordings of it. It just seemed so fun because I got to see everyone — even some people that I recognized, like big names — I saw them doing it and I was always like, ‘I want to go there and be one of them.'” (to The Canadian Press)
- Fabiano Ferreira (24, Brazil) – World Championships finalist in mixed duet
“I am very happy with this news. It is the result of a long walk by all of us men, a journey of great representation and fight to make our space within the sport and to make the Olympic dream come true. We stand with renewed hopes for the coming years and are eager to live this new challenge. And we are still believing in the long-awaited mixed duet competition in the Olympic Games so we continue our fight. Thanks to all the boys from each country and everyone involved in this journey, this victory is ours!”
- Javier Ruisanchez (25, Puerto Rico) – World Championships finalist in mixed duet
“It feels like we finally belong in the sport. Fairness and visibility matters. This wouldn’t have happened without the pioneers of our sport that opened the door for men. The Olympic dream for men was unreachable, but now we will have a chance and opportunity to make those dreams come true. The next generation will not have to go through what the pioneers went through, and will be inspired to compete at the biggest stage. I hope that we keep evolving, keep fighting for equality and keep growing so we can see more changes in the sport and see mixed duets at the next Olympics.”
- Ethan Calleja (23, Australia) – World Championships finalist in mixed duet
“Honestly, it’s some of the best news we could receive. This change affects not only men in the sport but the history of the sport itself. Although I have not been fighting for this as long as some of the other men around the world, the change is a dream come true, and I am not ready to stop fighting. Being able to have to door open and an opportunity arise is more than I could ever ask for. I can’t wait to work as hard as I can to hopefully be on that Olympic stage, not only against the other men but to represent my country at the pinnacle of our sport.” (to Artistic Swimming Australia)
ARTICLE BY CHRISTINA MARMET
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