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SIDEBAR Youngest Olympic participant Singh survives suit drama in Rio

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Teenagers fretting over what to wear is nothing new - but Nepal‘s 13-year-old Gaurika Singh had legitimate cause for concern Sunday when she tore her swimsuit just before she was due to swim in the Olympic Games.

"Before my race, I ripped my swimsuit and I had to ask my coach whether I should change it," she said after the 100-metre backstroke heats. "I was trying to pull up my costume and my nail dug into the costume and went through it.

"So I had to change to a different suit. That made me feel a bit nervous."

The last-second wardrobe change did not stop Singh, the youngest athlete in the Games, winning her heat but her time of 1 minute 8.45 seconds was only enough for 31st place of 34 entrants - well short of semi-final qualification.

Still, how many 13-year-olds spend their weekends as Olympians in Rio de Janeiro?

"It feels amazing," she said. "I‘m really grateful that I‘ve just got the opportunity to even be here. It was just amazing to look up and see my time."

Though Singh represents Nepal, she lives in Britain and has been receiving telephone advice from coach Rhys Gormley.

"He‘s been texting me instructions on what sessions to swim," she explained. "I heard from him just before my race, just minutes before, telling me what to do."

And any panic over her torn swimsuit is likely kept in perspective by surviving the 2015 Kathmandu earthquake which claimed the lives of thousands of people.

Singh was in Nepal for national swimming championships during the disaster and spent the earthquake sheltering under a table on the fifth story of a building.

"I felt so grateful that I was one who survived that whole earthquake so just to be here to make my country proud is great," she said.

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