Swimming-'Not greedy' Sjostrom all in for 50m freestyle gold at Paris


Fukuoka 2023 World Aquatics Championships - Swimming - Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall A, Fukuoka, Japan - July 28, 2023 Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom during the women's 50m butterfly semi final 2 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/ File photo

DOHA (Reuters) - Swedish swimming titan Sarah Sjostrom has cleared the decks on her Olympic programme to give her the best chance to bow out with gold in the women's 50 metres freestyle at Paris, saying she feels no need to chase more medals.

Sjostrom was entered in the 100m freestyle at the World Championships in Doha but elected not to compete, focusing instead on her 50m title defence and bidding for a sixth successive gold in the non-Olympic 50m butterfly.

She confirmed on Friday that the 50m freestyle will be her sole bid for individual glory at Paris, three years after taking silver in the event at the COVID-delayed Tokyo Games.

"I don't really enjoy the 100 and I don't want to get too greedy," the 30-year-old told reporters at the Aspire Pool in Doha on Friday.

"I could probably still be very competitive in the 100 fly (butterfly) if I wanted to.

"It sounds weird but for me it doesn't really make any difference if I win two medals or four medals.

"I'm super happy with one medal, do you understand?"

Sjostrom holds world records in the 50 and 100m freestyle, and the 100m butterfly, along with a 100m butterfly gold medal from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She suffered a broken elbow when she fell on ice six months out from the Tokyo Games where she missed out on medals in the 100m freestyle and 100m butterfly.

Sjostrom said she had no interest in swimming the 100m freestyle at Paris "just to be in the final".

"I'd rather put all my cards on the 50 freestyle and hope for the best there," she said with a laugh.

The evergreen Swede holds a record 21 individual world championship medals and appears set to add to the pile at Doha.

She clocked 24.88 in the 50m butterfly heats on Friday, the ninth fastest time ever, to be top seed for the semi-finals.

Sjostrom now holds the 23 fastest times ever in the non-Olympic event, with no other swimmer having broken 25 seconds.

She is also top seed for the 50m freestyle heats which start on Saturday.

Sjostrom said she was in a good mindset after a training bloc in South Africa during the northern hemisphere winter and was looking forward to Paris.

"I can't complain. I've had a good year so far," she said.

"So I'm just going to try to take care of myself and see what I can do, not try to force anything -- try to enjoy what I do."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Doha; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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