Lushavel Stickland eyes another medal in swimming

Lushavel Stickland has hopes to take Samoa’s medal tally up another notch in the women’s 50 meters backstroke finals tonight.

The 21-year-old from Lotopa won bronze in the women’s 50 meters butterfly last night at the Aquatic Center in Faleata. 

“Because this is my preferred stroke the backstroke, I feel a little bit more comfortable because I train this one a lot more,” she told the Samoa Observer.

“I don’t usually do butterfly, but I wanted to have a swim on the first night to see how I go and it went luckily winning a bronze. 

“So hopefully I can get on the podium again tonight and make everyone proud putting the flag up, but even if we don’t get a medal, it’s still great to see our Samoans in the finals and even in the heats.”

Lushavel clocked a time of 30:04 during the preliminary rounds of the 50 meters backstroke this morning, which she said was close to her personal best time. 

“So there are always the finals tonight and we can always fix a few things and hopefully get under 30, which is what I would like to do. 

“And yes I want to get another medal for Samoa. I really want to see the flag on the podium a few more times this week. There are a lot of us and I think we can get there.”

She is happy to represent Samoa in big sporting events as it draws her closer to home, and looks forward to doing so in the future.

“I have a lot of family living here in Samoa. 

“I live in Australia, but all my relatives live here, my cousins, aunties and uncles, and this is the first time most of them have seen me swim ever, so I was really making sure I was training up for this competition. 

“This is my first Pacific Games but not international competition as I was also part of two Oceania Championships, the one in Fiji in 2016 that was my first team Samoa, that was amazing to join the team and one of the members turns out to be my cousin who was introduced to be my one of my uncles, and I had no idea. So this really brings me closer to my family as well.”

Lushavel said her parents Luana Suhren and Russel Strickland introduced her to swimming lessons, until when she was 18 when her grandparents in Samoa told her about the country’s swimming team. 

“So I got in contact with Suzie and said I would love to represent Samoa to show a part of my culture. So luckily she took me on and here we are. 

She has this to say to all young people who dream of becoming athletes or swimmers. 

“Get involved in sports. When I was younger before I started competing, there was a world championship in Melbourne and as soon as I watched those people race and compete and see how much passion they have for swimming, and stand for something like representing your country, that made me really want to join the junior squad and move on from there. 

“You just have to get started and it doesn’t hurt to try. I’ve tried other sports and just because you’re not good at one, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing else out there that you can’t do. I used to do karate, and am not a very aggressive person that’s why I prefer swimming.”

Lushavel will also compete in the 100 meters backstroke, 100 meter freestyle and the 50 meter freestyle, and relays over the next few days. 

The finals begin at 6pm at the Aquatic Center in Faleata. 

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