June 22, 2024

Swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi looks back on SEA Games miracle medal haul

Swimmer Jasmine Alkhaldi looks back on SEA Games miracle medal haul
One Sports/Cesca Litton-Kalaw

Jasmine Alkhaldi, at 29, was heading to her eighth Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. She has been swimming in the SEA Games since she was 15. In Cambodia, she was just hoping to get one medal.

Alkhaldi came home with seven.

"What I was telling myself was 'one more.' I really wanted to do well for myself and for my country. Parang, 'isa pa'," Alkhaldi told One Sports' The Game on Tuesday night.

"I guess, I just kept winning," she added. "Two to six of the seven were really just a miracle, I was honestly just hoping for one."

That first medal Alkhaldi got in Cambodia was a silver in the 100m freestyle, a pet event, and one that held so much weight. Exactly 10 years ago in the 2013 SEA Games, Alkhaldi did manage to win gold but it was recalled after Thailand protested a false start. She took home bronze in the re-swim.

After four straight SEA Games bronzes and completely skipping it in Vietnam, Alkhaldi finally broke through with a silver in Cambodia. Singapore's Ting Wen Quah was just faster by 0.28 of a second. 

"Had nightmares about it, but it's okay," she joked.

  

The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on Alkhaldi, and the lack of training prompted her to skip the 100m freestyle in the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam. While she did take a silver in the 4x100m medley relay, her individual medala bronzecame on the last day, for the 100m butterfly.

"The stress and the pressure, ibang level," she revealed. "To be able to do this at the start pa lang, and at my favorite event where I stopped swimming last year, it was a huge weight off my back."

She proceeded to have three more silver medals in the women's 4x100m freestyle relay, the women's 4x100m medley relay, and the mixed 4x100m medley relay.

Alkhaldi also got bronze medals in the 50m butterfly, the 100m butterfly, and the women's 4x200m freestyle relay.

"I have to be a bit kinder to myself," she reflected. "Yes, I wanted to win the gold. When I got silver, I felt my job is done. See what I can do further, maybe push the limits and gave it my all."

With younger gold medalists like Teia Salvino and Xiandi Chua now breaking the Singaporean domination in swimming, the Olympian hopes to help guide her teammates like a big sister.

"Isip-bata din ako sometimes. But in my actions or how I step up to the plate, I hope it does inspire them and teach them a lesson or two," she said. "Hopefully, they become better athletes for the Philippines, to leave the sport better when I started."

"Filipinos can definitely do it, no matter where you come from, what age, 15 to 29, I've been winning medals," Alkhaldi reflected. "Never too early or too late as long as you have the right heart, you train hard, anything is possible."

"If I can do it, you can do it too."