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Monday, August 21, 2017

Spanish Swimmer Fernando Álvarez makes the World listen to his call for 1 min silence !

Budapest is the capital and the most populous city of Hungary and one of the largest cities in the European Union. The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement  that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th  century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity, and Budapest became a global city with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank with Pest on the east bank on November 17, 1873. Budapest also became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. The city was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

FINA World Championship is now on at Budapest, FINA was founded in 1908  with 8 nations: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary and Sweden.  Four years later, women contested the aquatic events for the first time at Stockholm.  The last championship was held in 2015 in Russia and the 17th version is now on at Budapest. 

The death toll from the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils  is reported to be 15, although scores more were injured, many of them seriously.  The last known member of the Barcelona terror cell has been shot dead after he was cornered by armed police while wearing a fake suicide vest. Younes Abouyaaqoub was killed in a town 30 miles west of Barcelona, four days after he drove a van along the crowded tourist boulevard Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring more than 130. Uncertain whether the vest he was wearing contained a real bomb or not, police deployed a robot to remove and examine the device, before confirming that it was fake.

Five other members of the cell – including Abouyaaqoub’s brother Houssaine - were shot dead by police in the coastal town of Cambrils early last Friday. They were each wearing fake suicide vests, possibly because they wanted to be shot dead rather than injured and arrested. The owners of a vineyard outside Subirats say police warned them to leave the property after they saw a car crossing their land at high speed. They then heard a helicopter overhead and a number of police cars racing to the area.

A 12-strong terror cell that carried out two deadly attacks in Spain had collected 120 gas canisters and was planning to use them in vehicle attacks, Spanish police say. Canisters were found at a house, said to be used by the cell, that blew up in the town of Alcanar on Wednesday night.

Getting back to FINA, today occurred an incredible moment when  a swimmer sacrificed World Championship glory to honour the victims of the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. Fernando Alvarez, from Cadiz, Spain, had asked organisers of the Masters World Championship to hold a minute's silence, but had his request refused. So when his fellow competitors in the 200-metre breaststroke race jumped into the pool, Mr Alvarez remained on the starting block for 60 seconds.

Swimming in the final of the men’s 200 backstroke at 17th  FINA Masters World Championships in Budapest on Saturday, Spain’s Fernando Álvarez paid a personal tribute to the victims of Thursday’s terrorist attack that killed at least 14 people and injured dozens more in Barcelona. Álvarez had asked FINA (the International Swimming Federation) to hold a one-minute period of silence before the start of his race, but he told the press that his request was denied. Álvarez, who swims with the club Natación Cadiz, was entered in the 50, 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events. He told El Español that after he swam the 100 breast on Friday, he asked FINA about a period of silence to honor the victims. But FINA denied his request, saying they couldn’t spare a minute from their timeline (“No se puede perder ni un minute” were his exact words to reporters).

So Álvarez decided to pay the tribute all alone. He stood on the block at the start of his heat of the 200 breast on Saturday morning, and after hearing the signal, he waited 60 seconds before starting his race. All soccer teams in the Spanish La Liga observed a minute of silence before their matches this weekend, and Álvarez thus joined his country’s tribute to the victims of the attacks. Álvarez’ time was not recorded, but as he explained to El Español, it didn’t matter at all. “I started a minute late. But that doesn’t matter. What I was feeling was more than if I had won all of the gold medals in the world.”

Álvarez still has the 50m breast to swim on Sunday. Mr Alvarez competes in masters swimming - a form of competitive swimming which includes swimmers aged 25 and upwards, with some competing into their 80s and 90s.  He may not have won, but has garnered the much needed attention to focus on what he wanted to !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st Aug 2017.

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