Greg Mercer, Waterloo Region Record
Julia Wilkinson’s Olympics came to an end last Friday morning with another disappointing race in the pool, capping a performance she says “let the country down.”
The Stratford swimmer, and a relay team of Tera Van Beilen, Katerine Savard and Samantha Cheverton, failed to make it out of their heat into the semifinal in the women’s 4x100 medley relay. The Canadians’ race, clocked at 4:02.71 for 12th place in the heats, was another letdown for Wilkinson, who made it to the semifinals in two 100-metre events in the past five days.
On Sunday in the 100-metre backstroke, her strongest event, she placed ninth in the semifinal and missed going to the medal swim by less than a tenth of a second.
After Friday’s race, the swimmer was introspective on a week that has seen victory for others swimmers, but escaped her.
“I think it’s important for everyone at home to understand that winning a medal at this level is so, so hard,” she said. “The fans get to see the reactions of Chad le Clos or Brent Hayden, but they don’t get to see us go back to warm-down pool, feeling really bad, like we let the country down.”
Wilkinson, the only Olympic veteran of the four Canadians in Friday’s relay, swam first in the medley race, which combines backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. She blamed herself for putting Canada behind the eight ball with her slow start to the relay.
“I didn’t get us off to a very good start,” she said. “It’s frustrating and I’m sad. I know it’s a four-person race, but the leadoff is so important.”
The 24-year-old admitted it was tough to pick herself up for a fourth and final event after three previous disappointments in London.
“We had some really big disappointments this week and it’s hard to bounce back from that,” Wilkinson said. “We were trying to do our best for Canada and it wasn’t enough today.”