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FEATURE Mamas on a mission: With the kids watching, mums seek Olympic glory By Ulrike John, dpa

Europe
Von unserem dpa-Korrespondenten und Europe Online   auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
It‘s a classic heart-and-mind conflict: A number of women athletes in Rio are mothers. Their hearts may be with their children back home, but in order to compete they have to have a clear head. Then there is one Rio athlete who is also a grandmother.

Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Han Ying looks a bit sad when talking about her four-year-old daughter Leonie. "I dreamed that she has grown so tall that I almost didn‘t recognise her. Suddenly 1.6 meters! I wanted to hug her and thought, she‘s not a child any more."

The German table tennis player, 33, admits that it is tough not having Leonie nearby, and in this regard she is in good company. At the Rio Olympics, there are any number of mothers who are competing for the medals while their darlings are far away.

The Americans have ten mothers on their team, including high jumper Chaunte Lowe, who has three children. Olympic long jump champion Brittney Reese adopted an eight-year-old boy, Alex, at the start of the year, while swimmer Dana Vollmer gave birth to her son Arlen in April 2015. Vollmer, a gold medal winner in London four years ago, created her twitter hashtag #MommaOnAMission and she will be returning to Arlen with at least a bronze medal from the 100 metres butterfly.

Then there is the first-ever Olympic mother-and-son team in Rio. Nino Salukwadse of Georgia, already a gold medal winner in the sport pistol at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and now attending her eighth games, has been joined by her son Tsotne Machawariani. "My son is giving me additional motivation," the 47-year-old psychologist says about her 18-year-old, who is competing in both the air pistol and sport pistol events.

Nino Salukwadse said of her son‘s competing in Rio: "This was my father‘s dream. Actually it should have been fulfilled in 2020 in Tokyo, but Tsotne worked very hard." She says this will probably be her last Olympics, citing problems with her eyes. Typical son, Machawariani emphatically contradicts her: "No, mom, these aren‘t your last games."

Australian dressage rider Mary Hanna is not only, at 61, the oldest Olympic competitor ever in her country‘s history, but the mother of two also has three grandchildren. "If the whole family were to come to Rio, I would be worrying too much. I couldn‘t then concentrate on the competition," she told the German daily "Die Welt."

Germany‘s shooting team has four women who are moms. Four-time skeet world champion Christine Wenzel already had this experience four years ago in London. Then, as now, she left her son Tobias back home with his grandparents.

Teammate Monika Karsch also left five-year-old Bruno and Lina, three, at home. "Some of my thoughts are always back home," she said. This, evidently, did not impair her performance in Rio, winning the silver medal in the sport pistol event.

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