x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Serbian swimmers' UAE route to London Olympics

The aim is to secure one of the remaining four places available via the European Aquatics Championships in Hungary in two weeks time.

The Emirati swimmer Obaid Ahmed Al Jasmi has been training along with the Serbians too.
The Emirati swimmer Obaid Ahmed Al Jasmi has been training along with the Serbians too.

DUBAI // For the next two weeks, a set of swimming pools in Dubai will become an enclave of Serbia as four of the country's leading swimmers plot their route to the London Olympics as a team.

Velimir Stjepanovic, the UAE-based Serb, was due to collect Radovan Siljevski from Dubai International Airport in the early hours of this morning.

With Stefan Sorak, another Dubai resident, and George Markovic already here, the four-man team targeting a place at the Games via the 4x200 metres relay event should now be complete.

The Serbians, who will train under the guidance of the Hamilton Aquatics academy, aim to secure one of the remaining four places available via the European Aquatics Championships in Hungary in two weeks' time.

The relay event could be the best route to the Games for Sorak, but he says being part of a team brings with it added concerns.

"It is extra pressure because, if they do good and I do bad, I will be so disappointed," said Sorak, who has lived in Dubai since August.

"I don't know how I'll be able to come back from that mentally. Then again, I think that will motivate me more, and I will overcome the pressure from being scared of letting people down."

Sorak and Stjepanovic are likely to go in direct competition with one of the Hamilton Aquatics clubmates as part of the relay event.

Tiago Venancio, who is also focused on meeting individual Olympic qualifying standards in Hungary, will go as part of the Portuguese relay team.

"When it gets to that point, there are no friends," Venancio said.

"If you want to make it to the Olympics you have to beat them, so you have to give it 100 per cent of what you have got. That is life."

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE & Paul Radley @PaulRadley