Lewis Clareburt left mourning over morning struggles

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 26 Jul 2021, 11:52AM
Lewis Clareburt. (Photo / Getty)
Lewis Clareburt. (Photo / Getty)

Lewis Clareburt left mourning over morning struggles

Author
Christopher Reive, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 26 Jul 2021, 11:52AM

Lewis Clareburt says his motivation will be multiplied after coming up just short of claiming New Zealand's first medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

The 22-year-old finished seventh in the 400m individual medley on Sunday, a race in which he was caught at the death by his fellow competitors.

Clareburt, who was the second-fastest qualifier, wasn't among the frontrunners after the butterfly but raced to the front after the backstroke leg. He gave the lead back to American Chase Kalisz - who Clareburt beat in their heat - on the troublesome breaststroke leg and had nothing in the tank in the freestyle, being run down by the rest of the field inside the final 50m of the race.

"I was gutted," Clareburt said. "I could tell in the last 100 metres I was there with the guys. I could see I was up in the mix and I could also see everyone passing me in that last 50.

"My lungs were gone. The body was freezing up and the lactate just hits you."

Unlike the heats, which were held on Saturday evening, the final was a mid-morning contest. Clareburt said if the race had been held later in the day things might have turned out differently, and he was proud of his time as it was his fastest morning swim.

"This morning I got up at 5:30 and tried to do everything i could to get over the morning blues," he explained.

"I expected it'd be tough to get up in the morning. It was easy to pinpoint where it went wrong. If the final was at night, it probably would've been a different story.

"That first few hours after the race were tough. It was pretty hard to see those guys up on the podium and me not.

"Whenever I go to an international comp I stand up and it didn't happen. Going forward, my motivation will be multiplied."

While disappointed not to have earned a place on the podium, Clareburt said he was overwhelmed by the messages of support he had received from fans back home.

Although the 400m individual medley was his primary event, Clareburt still has another chance in the pool as part of the 200m field. The heats for the 200m individual medley are held on Wednesday, with the final on Thursday.

"I think I can surprise myself," Clareburt said of his chances in the event. "There can be upsets in any shape and form. Now the pressure is off I can go have fun and race fast."