Swimming is a big sport in Britain. According to statistics, about 2.5 million Britons take part in one form of swimming activity. So we can all imagine how much pressure was on Jake Burnell to win the gold medal at the FINA World Championships.
A time like this last year, Burnell was an angry man. His plans to bag the gold were thwarted when an incident happened just before he crossed the finish line. Burnell felt his leg pulled backwards as he was angling to bypass his remaining opponents to the finish line. This split-second ordeal cost him the title, wasted years of practice, and several months of anger, despair, and disillusionment.
Nevertheless, an entrepreneur at heart, Burnell understands the beauty of setbacks. He promised himself to make 2017 a different year that will outgrow the 2016 FINA incident. True to his worlds, Jake Burnell walked away with the gold medal at the Abu Dhabi World Cup held in March this year. At least he has redeemed himself and his British fans, and now a greater task lay ahead—winning the FINA World Championships gold medal he had so brutally been denied.
To understand the determination burning in Burnell’s heart, one has to consider the conditions that plague marathon swimmers. Unlike an indoor pool, marathons take place out in uncharted waters where debris, changing current, and often times human impact gets in the way. By the time you get to the finish line, you are drained physically, mentally, and emotionally.
July 17, 2017 is the date Jake Burnell went back to fight for the title he deserves. All eyes were on him as he battled through the open-waters at Budapest. Unfortunately, Burnell’s lost the gold medal to Ferry Weertman, the Dutch he had beaten at the Abu Dhabi Championships. Burnell did not manage to get in second or third but fourth. Though the gold medal once again eluded him, at least his dignity was restored.