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Blackburn refuses to give up on Olympic dream

Still dreaming: Blackburn has not given up hope of reaching the Rio Olympics

Lisa Blackburn hopes there will be one final chapter to her inspirational swimming story after closing the book on her Pan Am Games career in Toronto.

At 44-years-old, Blackburn, a three-times Pan Am Games athlete, knows only too well that time is running out far quicker than she would like.

Not that she is finished yet, though. Far from it in fact, with the Florida-based athlete refusing to give up on her dream of qualifying for next year’s Rio Olympics.

“This will probably be my last Pan Am Games, but I still hope to compete at my first Olympics,” Blackburn said. “That’s still my goal and I have until June to qualify.”

Although Blackburn swam her fastest time of the season in the 200 metres breaststroke heat in 2:42.82, she was disappointed with her overall times in Toronto, especially in the 100 heat, finishing in 1:16.14, and cut a forlorn figure as she exited the pool at the Aquatics Centre.

Despondent but still determined, Blackburn returned for the B final on the evening and at least rediscovered some semblance of form, finishing fifth in 1:14.45.

She was also happier with her performance in Saturday’s 200 individual medley, finishing sixth in her heat in 2:29.04.

“I swam better on Friday night, certainly better than in the morning and I came into today’s [Saturday’s] race more confident,” said Blackburn, who will compete at next month’s US Masters Summer National Championships in Cleveland.

“The times still aren’t there, which is unfortunate, but I’m still giving it 100 per cent and doing all I can.

“The times are comparable to what I’ve done all season, but I’m just not getting the drop I was hoping for.”

Blackburn did not always have to concern herself with bothersome B finals. At the 2003 Pan Am Games in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, she won silver medals in the 200 breaststroke and the 4x100 medley relay, as well as a bronze in the 100 breaststroke in the colours of Canada, where she was raised.

It is a testament to the proud Bermudian’s love for the sport that she still has the desire to continually test herself against the world’s top swimmers, some of whom are more than half her age.

“It’s been an amazing experience and it’s always great to represent Bermuda,” said Blackburn, who trains at the South Florida Aquatic Club in Pembroke Pines.

“The Games have been awesome and Canada has done a great job. There’s been a lot of great Canadian support and I’m sure these Games have inspired a lot of young swimmers.”