Oleksiak sets herself apart, but she’s not done yet in Tokyo
While Canadians are celebrating Penny Oleksiak making history, she’s already thinking about her next race.
The 21-year-old swimmer became Canada’s most decorated summer Olympian of all time with a bronze in the women’s 200m freestyle on Day 5. It’s her second medal at Tokyo 2020, after winning silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and the sixth of her Olympic career.
“It’s weird. I don’t know, it’s definitely crazy,” said Oleksiak after winning the bronze. “I don’t think I’ve had time to soak it in yet.”
That might be because she has plenty of work left to do.
The 200m freestyle final came on Wednesday morning in Tokyo (Tuesday evening in Canada), and Oleksiak was already looking ahead to the heats in the 100m freestyle later in the day.
“I have 100 free tonight, hopefully 100 free tomorrow, 4x200m tomorrow morning,” she said. “So, tomorrow afternoon I’m probably just going to lay in my bed and take it in.”
Both of those events yielded podium finishes for Oleksiak at Rio 2016: gold in the 100m freestyle, bronze in the 4x200m freestyle relay. That means Oleksiak could make even more history in the days to come.
“I’m not done yet,” she said in an interview with the CBC after the race. “So, I hope there’s more coming.”
But don’t think for a moment that she took the 200m freestyle for granted. She felt the pain in the pool on Day 5, and pushed through it.
“When I saw the lights beside my name, I honestly didn’t really care; I was just like, ‘my legs are killing me right now.’
“It was really hurting. In the last 25, I was breathing every two [strokes], and every time I took a breath I was angry at myself for breathing in the last 25 of the race.”
As the country celebrated her history-making moment, Oleksiak was questioning her own form, in a race in which she’d just won bronze.
Perhaps it’s that drive that got her here in the first place… and could keep her going to even greater heights.