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Ryan Maskelyne - Men's 200m Breaststroke - Swimming

On Tuesday 27 July, Papua New Guinean athlete Ryan Maskelyne set a new record for his country in the 200M Breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympic Games. An important steppingstone for both the athlete and the nation. The 22-year-old is at the beginning of his journey as an athlete with a promising career in front of him.

He had a bumpy road in the lead up to the Games, but he managed to secure his spot under the universality system which allows a nation with no Olympic swimming qualifier to enter up to one man and one woman into the Games. Ryan is PNGs top ranked swimmer and in 2017 he was named Junior Sportsman of the Year in PNG.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan and ask him a couple of questions about his recent experience and this is what he had to say…

Tell us about your road to the Tokyo Olympic Games?

Last year I spent 9 straight weeks out of the water due to covid lockdowns, however since June 2020 I have been very lucky (given that I live and train in Queensland) and have not missed much more training due to covid since. The hardest thing for me was not knowing whether the Olympics would go ahead given the current circumstances and having to push myself through this.

I eventually qualified to compete at the Tokyo Olympics through the universality program, giving representation to my country.

 What was your feeling once your arrived in Tokyo at the Olympic Village?

 In one word, overwhelmed. It was crazy, the first two days there was so much going on and so many athletes and everything was so surreal. 

 How did the Opening Ceremony feel without crowds?

I had been travelling for 24 hours prior to arriving in the Olympic village the morning of the opening ceremony, so whilst I did attend, I was very jet lagged and didn't really feel I got to take it all in, I left after each country walked in.

Tell us about competing in Tokyo how did you feel stepping on to the world stage?

Every day in the lead up to my race I was nervous, until the day of my race. In the warmup pool and final call room I was calm and having fun, talking with my competitors. But, as soon as I walked out on pool deck, the nerves hit me again, but in a good way, I wasn't scared, I was excited. 

 Tell us about performing in front on empty stadium?

I was lucky to be competing in swimming where most of the competitors stayed to watch the heats and cheer their teammates on, so for me it wasn't quite an empty stadium. 

What was your best experience in the Olympic Village and at the Olympic Games?

In the village, it’s hard to just pick one thing, meeting all the athletes at the dining hall and learning where they were from and what sport they were competing in is something that sticks out for me.  

 At the Games, Racing. I love racing, and to be able to compete on the world’s biggest stage and do a personal best was unreal. 

 So what’s next for you? Commonwealth Games, Pacific Games, then Paris?

 Seeing how fast it took to make the semi-finals in my event has lit a fire in me, I am now more motivated than ever to get back into training and improve myself. I plan on competing at the Commonwealth Games next year, as well as the Pacific Games in 2023 and hopefully (depending on where I am at with my swimming) Paris in 2024. 

Tell us how it feels to represent your family and country?

Honour and pride are the two words that come closest to describing the feeling. 

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