Maria Lenk Trophy kicks off to test Rio 2016 aquatic center

Rio de Janeiro, April 16 (IANS) Over 350 Brazilian swimmers, plus 55 athletes from 11 countries and regions, are competing for the Maria Lenk Trophy, the first main tournament in the Olympic Park’s Swimming Stadium in Barra da Tijuca.

The event, which was inaugurated on Friday, will serve as a test ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games here, reports Xinhua.

For the Brazilians, from 58 clubs in the country, this version of the national championships will have a special meaning than in previous years as the six-day swimming tournament will be the last opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

The swimmers that already qualified for the Games back in December will try to sign up for the two candidacies in each discipline while the rest will participate in the tournament under the concept of “all or nothing.”

Cesar Cielo is among those that still have not earned a ticket to Rio. The country’s best swimmer ever, who won a gold medal in the Beijing 2008 Olympics, is going through a difficult time and will compete in the 100-meter freestyle on Monday and the 50-meter freestyle on Wednesday.

For the swimmers from Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Slovakia, Finland, Japan, Paraguay, the Czech Republic, Ukraine and Uruguay, it is the chance to get to know the pool where the Rio 2016 Games will take place.

The tournament is named after deceased Brazilian swimmer Maria Lenk who is considered one of the greatest female athletes from the South American country.

She was the first South American woman to compete in the Summer Olympics in 1932 at the age of 17.

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