Swimmer Victoria Poon has had her Olympic moment: she’s lasted three days at the pool.
The Hong Kong-born, Montreal-based Poon was all smiles Thursday at the London Aquatics Centre even when recalling her sickly saga of four years ago when she ended up quarantined from the rest of the Canadian team.
Poon was barely into her practice routine at Beijing’s Water Cube when she noticed her skin was blistering. Doctors checked her out and determined she had chicken pox. Two days into the 2008 Olympics, Poon was hustled out of the Athletes’ Village and sequestered at the Canadian embassy.
Although well tended to, Poon couldn’t go in the water and couldn’t entertain guests. Four years of training for the women’s 100-metre freestyle were undone by a bad case of pox.
“I was in shock,” she said of the doctors’ diagnosis. “They told me it might clear up in a week. I needed to keep my fitness because the 50 free was at the end (of the Olympic meet). I (rode stationary) bikes, yoga – my normal routine, but without water.”
Poon did return in time to swim the 50 but wasn’t at full strength. She ended up 30th but determined to get back to the Olympic meet. Last summer at the world aquatic championships, she helped the women’s 4 x 100 freestyle team qualify for London. She earned her ticket to England at the Canadian Olympic trials held in Montreal and is slated to swim in the 50 and 100 free and at least one relay.
The women’s 4 x 100 free relay heats will go Saturday morning with the finals at night.
“I feel good right now,” Poon said after a practice swim. “It’s my third day and I’m still here. I’m happy. I appreciate everyone’s support.”