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Lithuania Drops Men’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay Due to World Aquatics Olympic Quota

With just a few days left until the start of the 2024 Olympic Games, Lithuania has been dealt a major blow by the World Aquatics Championship.

LTU Aquatics, the governing body of Lithuanian aquatics, has received an official letter from World Aquatics stating that one of the Lithuanian athletes competing in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay will not be able to swim in Paris due to strict Olympic quotas.

LTU Aquatics announced that World Aquatics sent the following statement: “We congratulate Lithuania on qualifying for the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay in Paris 2024 and on becoming champions in this event at the recently held 2024 European Aquatics Championships.

“This milestone reflects an important opportunity for Lithuania to showcase its competitiveness at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, France.

“However, we would like to respectfully inform you that the quota places and Qualification System determined for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games do not provide any flexibility to World Aquatics.

“As outlined in the Qualification System, the intention to offer additional Relay Only athlete quota places to the NOC was to assist the NOC in ensuring that the relay team can participate in the relevant event, provided that the NOC does not have sufficient OQT and OCT invited athletes.

“This was the guiding principle for World Aquatics’ evaluations. As the rules and quotas are designed to ensure fairness and consistency for all participating NOCs, we are obliged to comply with these regulations without exception.”

Lithuania qualified to compete in Paris by finishing 7th in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay with a time of 7:11.57.

The Lithuanian quartet, competing at the European Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia this year, Tomas Navikonis, Tomas Lukminas, Kristupas Trepocka And Beef Rapeseed He won the gold medal in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay with a new national record of 7:08.04, which determined who would represent the country in Paris.

However, according to World Aquatics, one of the swimmers banned from going to Paris will need to be replaced by another swimmer who achieved an Olympic Qualification Time. Rapsys was the only swimmer to achieve this in the freestyle. This means one of the two swimmers who qualified in another swimming style (breaststroke)…Andrius Sidlauskaswill have to participate in the relay race.

“It’s a very unpleasant surprise. Four swimmers have trained all season, competing to be on the team that was supposed to swim in the Olympics, and now they find out that one of them won’t be able to do it, even though they qualified,” Sidlauskas said.

“It’s a pity for young athletes who received such a blow even after becoming European champions. They were competing for the Olympic final. This would mean a lot for Lithuanian sports.

“Now, hoping for a better result when three athletes are swimming freestyle and one is only training breaststroke is naive and unprofessional. I am uncomfortable having to swim in a relay.
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“Of course I will do my best, but it’s ridiculous because the conditions should be the same for all participants. The saddest thing is that Lithuania’s hopes for a historic best result in the relay were shattered before they even started.”

“It’s a shame that we have the strongest relay team in swimming history, but we won’t be able to use it at the Olympic Games,” Rapsys said.

“I saw with my own eyes how hard my teammates worked to showcase their talent and earn the right to compete in the Olympics. And now, despite earning that right, we are not able to perform to our full potential or achieve the best result. Is this the essence of the Olympic spirit?”

LTU Aquatics President, Saulius BineviciusHe says they are considering the possibility of applying to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“I have never encountered such a situation that is against sports principles,” he said.

“Our team is very restless because we were prepared to achieve our highest goals at the Olympic Games.

“The welfare of our athletes is of critical importance, because it is clear that we will not be allowed to pursue these goals. Kristupas Trepočka, whose progress has improved significantly recently and who became European Junior Champion just a few days ago, was told that the Olympic doors were slammed in his face this year. Can you imagine how he feels? We will appeal to all countries that share the same fate.”