26-year-old Yuliya Efimova of Russia is coming off of a successful summer, capturing 4 golds and 1 silver at the 2018 European championships. While competing in Glasgow, Efimova strung together a sweep of the women’s breaststroke events, as well as topping the podium on her nation’s 4 x 100m medley relay. She is currently ranked #1 in the world in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke events, while positioned as #2 in the 50m sprint.
Looking ahead to what’s next, Efimova recently told state-run news agency TASS that she is considering continuing her career on not just through Tokyo 2020, but until Paris 2024.
“I will definitely be swimming a year after Tokyo, we will see. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and say: ‘That’s it, I want to get married.’ It depends on me and what’s happening around me. So far I’m not planning to go anywhere, the 2020 Olympics are ahead, and who knows, then there’s the year 2024.
“The world is changing. I wanted to stop at 16, then at 18, and I’m still here,” she included.
Efimova almost didn’t even swim at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, granted permission to compete at the 11th hour after she had tested positively for a banned substance call meldonium. She collected 2 individual silver medals in Rio.
The entire nation of Russia was then banned from competing at the 2018 Winter Olympics, due to allegations of systemic doping, although some athletes were eligible to compete under a neutral flag.
With these scenarios in mind, Efmiova grants that 2020 itself may not be a sure thing.
“You have to be ready for everything, but prepare to compete anyway,” she said. “I hope that everything will be alright. In 2016, I was almost sure that I’m not going to the Games, that they won’t let me go anywhere, and in the end I did go, they admitted me on the last day. It’s hard to say, but there will definitely be some problems with admitting our athletes.”
“The situation is so unpredictable that I wouldn’t try to make forecasts. However, I’ll be on standby for the Games.”