Aurelie Fanchette
Official London Olympics website photo

Two of the youngest Olympians here in London are swimmers from Malawi and the Seychelles. Joyce Tafatatha and Aurelie Fanchette, both 14, are delighted to be competing in their first Olympic Games. Fanchette swam Monday (July 30) in the women’s 200 meters freestyle heats. Even though her time (2:23.49) was almost 30 seconds slower than that of newly crowned Olympic champion Allison Schmitt of the USA (1:53.61), it was a personal best, and the crowd cheered in support of the Seychelles teenager when she touched the wall.

“Inspire a generation” is the official slogan of the London Olympics, and Fanchette says she hopes she can encourage younger athletes in the Seychelles with her performance. She received a wild card entry to compete in London, and in her words, “I really want to come back at the next Olympics in Rio, and hopefully I will try to qualify for them, rather than just get invited.”

Malawian Olympian Joyce Tafatatha

Meanwhile, Malawian teenager Joyce Tafatatha will swim Friday (August 3) in the heats for the women’s 50 meter freestyle. She says American star Michael Phelps is one of her swimming heroes, and like Fanchette, she hopes she can inspire younger Malawians by competing in London.

Even though they will not go home with an Olympic medal, Tafatatha and Fanchette say rubbing shoulders with the likes of Phelps and other Olympic stars in the Athletes’ Village has given them some thrilling lifetime memories and motivation to train harder in the future.