Royal Free doctor proud of his 'amazing' daughter as she becomes Rio's youngest Olympian
PUBLISHED: 15:22 08 August 2016 | UPDATED: 15:25 08 August 2016
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A Royal Free doctor has spoken of his pride after his 13 year-old daughter became the youngest athlete to compete in the Rio Olympic Games.
Swimmer Gaurika Singh, who was born in 2002, competed in the 100m backstroke for Nepal this weekend, cheered on by her father, Paras Singh, a urologist at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.
Adam Peaty may have grabbed the glory by winning Team GB’s first gold of the games in the 100m breaststroke, but teenager Gaurika hit the headlines for her gutsy performance - even winning her heat in the process.
She beat her two competitors in what was much the slowest heat of her event, meaning she placed 32nd out of 34 overall.
Afterwards, she told the BBC’s Claire Baldwin: “It’s just amazing. I feel really fortunate to even be here up against so many amazing athletes.”
Dr Singh, who lives with Gaurika in Barnet, said he never imagined his daughter would become an Olympian at such a young age: “It wasn’t in our plans. But things just worked out for her. But she can build on this for the future.”
He added: “It’s unbelievable that she’s the youngest Olympian in Rio and amazing how she copes with all the pressure.”
As if her tender age doesn’t make her story impressive enough, Gaurika also has a remarkable tale of survival, having escaped from a five story building in last year’s massive earthquake in Nepal - which killed 9,000 people - after hiding under a table.
Gaurika makes up one fifth of the entire Nepalese team, having come to England with her family in 2004 when she was just two years old,
She attends renowned private girls’ school Haberdashers’ Aske’s in Elstree and trains at Barnet Copthall.
The year nine pupil took up swimming in Scotland because she said, “My Dad forced me to go,” before joining the Barnet club at the age of nine when the family moved to London.
She already hold nine Nepalese national records, and said it has never occurred to her to switch her allegiances to compete for Britain.
She said in an interview with the Australian media: “Eventually, I could have represented England, but I’m not English so there’s not much point being Nepalese and representing Britain.
“I’m Nepalese, I’m not English or anything else.”
Gaurika said she is already looking forward to the next Olympics in Tokyo - where if she makes it, she will be a veritable veteran at the age of 17.