FIU Swimmers Splash in Tokyo Olympics

Maha Gouda and Elinah Phillip competing in diving and swimming competitions at FIU. Photo courtesy of FIU News.

Yansall Rasquides / Staff Writer

Two FIU student athletes are set to compete in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, both are a part of the university’s swimming and diving program.

Maha Gouda, a junior majoring in public relations, advertising and applied communications will represent Egypt on the diving platform at the Games.

Headshot of Maha Gouda, FIU diver. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Elinah Phillip, a junior in the pre-dentistry track, will compete as a swimmer in women’s freestyle. Phillip will be one of two flag bearers, representing the British Virgin Islands during the Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 23.

Headshot of Elinah Phillip, FIU swimmer. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

This is the second time both athletes will compete in the Olympics. Gouda and Phillip made their debuts at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I was only 16 in Rio. I’m 21 now, and one thing I’ve noticed is I am much calmer, less anxious,” said Phillip. “There are definitely still nerves since it is the Olympics after all, but in general, I’m doing better.”

Gouda will compete in the women’s 10-meter platform diving on Wednesday, August 4. She placed 24th in Rio for the same contest.

FIU swim team in socially distanced huddle. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Phillip is set to swim in the women’s 50-meter Freestyle on Friday, July 30. She finished in 48th during the Rio Games for this competition.

Phillip is the Virgin Island’s youngest athlete, and the first to represent the region in aquatic competition during any Olympics.

Elinah Phillip swimming during competition. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

“I love the [British Virgin Islands] and I am so grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from the territory,” said Phillip. “I hope to make waves in swimming in as many ways as I can.” 

This is not the first time FIU athletes have competed in the Olympic games. FIU Alumni including Naomi Ruele in swimming; Ronald Forbes in track and field; Yarimar Rosa and Natalia Valentin in volleyball; who have also participated in the 2016 Olympic Games.

“Our team atmosphere at FIU genuinely is unmatched and whether I’m physically surrounded by my team and coaches or not, the confidence and drive never leaves,” said Phillip. “I’ll go and race with pure passion, hungry to do the best I physically can, like we always do at FIU swim and dive.”

The Olympics were originally planned to take place last year, from July 24 to August 9, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Audience members will be barred from the Olympic Games due to Tokyo’s state of emergency, as COVID-19 cases have increased.

“I do genuinely feel safe in the village,” said Phillip. “I’ve found that a lot of prevention comes from what you’re willing to do for yourself and during the pandemic, our team at FIU has always been as safe and cautious as possible.”

Phillip noted the safety precautions at the Olympics village which is where all athletes will be staying throughout the games. 

“I trust that I’m doing what I need to in order to keep safe,” said Phillip. “We have apps downloaded to keep track of close contacts as well as our daily conditions such as temperature and symptoms and we test for [COVID-19] every day. So honestly, I feel confident and safe here.”

Spectators can watch Gouda and Phillip on NBC during this summer’s Olympics from July 23 to August 8.

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