Years Of Hard Work Pay Off For Kareena Lee

Years Of Hard Work Pay Off For Kareena Lee

Kareena Lee stood tall on the Olympic podium, finishing third in the Olympic 10K Marathon Swim at the Tokyo Olympics behind gold medalist Ana Marcela Cunha of Brazil and Sharon van Rouwendaal of the Netherlands.

Lee swam a very strategic race, bidding her time and working her way up the lead pack to close strongly in Odaiba Marine Park on a seven-loop course in the 29.3°C (85°F) water.

Her bronze medal finish was years in the making. The 27-year-old explained, “I missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympic team. It was my goal to get onto the 2020 team. I changed coaches to swim with John Rogers, a five-time Olympic coach. He worked with me on my speed.

I am thankful that Australia sent me to many FINA World Cup events to gain experience. I have done a lot more pool training after my 7th place finish at the FINA World Championships in 2019 in Korea. In the 10 km race at Yeosu, I was only a second outside of the medals and I knew that I needed more speed to get my hand on the touch pad first. That speed paid off today.”

The woman from Noosa explained her race strategy, “I was calm and relaxed. I was back a little further than usual, but I was ready to move. I was hurting so much, but I knew that everyone else was hurting too. It’s an honor to sit here with these girls today. My race strategy was to race up the front, but not in the lead, but close enough to keep an eye on others and to conserve energy for the last lap. The race pace was picking up in the second lap and that was unexpected [when Ashley Twichell started to swim faster]. My plan was to pick up the pace with 2 km left in the race. I saw Ana Marcela was going a little wider and I followed her. My position was good enough to stay in the race for a medal, but unfortunately not enough to overtake her.

While she dreamed about winning an Olympic medal, it took some time to explain how the medal felt around her neck, “I don’t really think that I’ve processed how it feels. It’s just incredible. It was the goal going in to come out with a medal and doing this at my first Olympics is unbelievable.”

But with all the kilometers swum under the watchful eye of Coach Rogers, he wasn’t able to prepare her for absolutely everything in Tokyo Bay. “A fish jumped out of the water and hit me on my chest.  I didn’t know what it was at first, and I was like ‘woah’. I have watched them jump out before, but I didn’t think one would actually hit me during a race. [But] I’ve been training in a pool that was 31°C. The last couple of weeks leading in, I went to Darwin [in Australia’s Northern Territory] which has a similar air temperature to here [Tokyo] back in Australia so that’s how I prepared.

I am so happy for Australia….it’s not just my medal, but it’s for the whole team and I am very thankful for their support.”

Ana Marcela Cunha finishing first with Sharon van Rouwendaal finishing second, and Kareena Lee finishing third in the yellow swim cap
Kareena Lee on left in third, after Ana Marcela Cunha and Sharon van Rouwendaal. Photo by Hiroyuki Nakamura (PICSPORT)

Listen today to part 2 of the play-by-play commentary by Sid Cassidy and Steven Munatones during the 2.5-hour WOWSA livecast starting at 5:00 pm EST (6:00 am Tokyo time) for the men’s Olympic 10K Marathon Swim.

Olympic 10K Marathon Swim Results:

1. Ana Marcela Cunha (Brazil, 29) 1:59:30.90
2. Sharon van Rouwendaal (Netherlands, 27) 1:59:31.70
3. Kareena Lee (Australia, 27) 1:59:32.50
4. Anna Olasz (Hungary, 27) 1:59:34.80
5. Leonie Beck (Germany, 24) 1:59:35.10
6. Haley Anderson (USA, 29) 1:59:36.90
7. Ashley Twichell (USA, 32) 1:59:37.90
8. Xin Xin (China, 24) 2:00:10.10
9. Lara Grangeon de Villele (France, 29) 2:00:57.0
10. Finnia Wunram (Germany, 25) 2:01:01.90
11. Samantha Arévalo (Ecuador, 26) 2:01:30.60
12. Cecilia Biagioli (Argentina, 36) 2:01:31.70
13. Yumi Kida (Japan, 36) 2:01:40.90
14. Rachele Bruni (Italy, 30) 2:02:10.20
15. Anastasiia Kirpichnikova (Russian Olympic Committee, 21) 2:03:17.50
16. Paula Ruiz Bravo (Spain, 22) 2:03:17.60
17. Angelica Andre (Portugal, 26) 2:04:40.70
18. Kate Farley Sanderson (Canada, 21) 2:04:59.10
19. Alice Dearing (Great Britain, 24) 2:05:03.20
20. Paola Perez (Venezuela, 30) 2:05:45.00
21. Michelle Weber (South Africa, 24) 2:06:56.50
22. Krystyna Panchishko (Ukraine, 23) 2:07:35.10
23. Li-Shan Chantal Liew (Singapore, 22) 2:08:17.90
24. Spela Perse (Slovenia, 25) 2:08:33.00
25. Souad Nefissa Cherouati (Algeria, 32) 2:17:21.60

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Steven Munatones