Olympics-Brazilian swimmer Fratus, feted for Tokyo bronze joy, to miss Paris

By Thomson Reuters Apr 30, 2024 | 8:20 PM

(Reuters) – Brazilian swimmer Bruno Fratus, whose jubilation at winning a freestyle bronze medal went viral at the Tokyo Olympics, has opted out of the Paris Games after a long battle with injuries.

Fratus at 32 became the oldest swimmer to claim a first Olympic medal when he finished third in the 50 metres freestyle won by American Caeleb Dressel at Tokyo.

Pumping his fists in the pool wildly and sharing a passionate, pool-side kiss with his wife-coach Michelle Lenhardt after the medal ceremony, Fratus’s celebrations lit up the delayed Games where crowds were banned due to COVID-19 restrictions.

A veteran of three Olympics, Fratus said that after four surgeries in the last 18 months it was impossible for him to be competitive for Paris and he had decided to pull out of Olympic trials next week.

“After three Olympics, it wouldn’t make sense to go to Paris, wear the Brazilian uniform, without the full conviction that I’m in a position to fight for the race,” he said on social media.

“Even though it hurts me – a lot – not to be able to be there, I will be here cheering as always for everyone who will be there competing and representing our country.”

The 34-year-old, a four-times medallist at world championships, had major knee surgery in February.

He said pulling out of Paris did not mean the end of his swimming career but only a “brief hiatus”.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)