2 Aug 2018

Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom recalls joy of flying to her first European title aged 14

While the Swede now has 18 Olympic, World and European long-course titles, the 2008 European Championships were her launchpad where she shocked defending champion Inge Dekker.

When Sarah Sjostrom (SWE) won her first European title in the 100m butterfly aged 14 in 2008, her squeal of joy echoed around the pool in Eindhoven, Netherlands.

While she now has 18 Olympic, World and European long-course titles, the 2008 European Championships were her launchpad, as she shocked defending champion Inge Dekker (NED), who would go on to win gold later that year as part of the Netherlands’ 4x100m freestyle squad at the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Now 24, Sjostrom remembers well touching the wall, looking up at the scoreboard and letting out a shriek.

"Some races I remember more than others and this is definitely one of the ones I have in my memory," said the swimmer.

"It was 10 years ago and I can’t believe it has gone so quick. It’s amazing that I am still here and I have improved my swimming so much more than I could ever imagine.

"I know many people maybe said ‘oh she’s 14 years old and we don’t know if she is going to keep improving’. But I proved to myself and everyone else that I could continue at this level.

"If I saw any 14-year-old girl win now I don’t think I would believe it. If a 14-year-old were to beat me now, in this competition, I would be like 'what?'

"When you are older you understand how big it is but I don’t think I understood that then."