by Wade Townsend
Galia Dvorak’s journey to the Rio Olympic Games was unlike any other.
“When I think back about the Rio 2016 Olympics I have a lot of mixed emotions.” Galia Dvorak
It was the Spaniard’s third time going to the Games. But this time her route there was by an unexpected means.
“At first I didn’t qualify and I didn’t make it by a very small margin. But anyway, I kept practising because I was first first reserve and I knew that maybe I would have the chance to play. And it’s what actually happened in the last minute.”
France’s Carole Grundisch fell while riding a bicycle in Paris. The accident resulted in a broken arm and Grundisch was forced to withdraw from the Games. Dvorak was next in line to play. But her excitement for selection was tempered slightly by knowing the means through which it came.
“In that moment I felt very happy because it was a dream come true to compete again in the Olympics, but in the same moment, I felt a little sad because I know Grundisch quite well and I know how much she fought to get this ticket and when she finally couldn’t play, I’m sure it was very hard for her.”
Dvorak got the call up less than two weeks before the Women’s Singles was scheduled to start. The Spaniard had competed in Beijing 2008 and London 2012, but on both occasions only in the team event. In Rio 2016 she would be making her Women’s Singles debut.
“Once I was there, playing Olympics is always a very special feeling, but I was little sad that I couldn’t perform my best, because I got my qualification in the last minute, and despite that I was still practising maybe mentally I wasn’t fully prepared and I didn’t do my best. That’s why all these mixed emotions.”
Dvorak lost her first and only match at the games to Brazil’s Gui Lin 4-2. One match. Sometimes that’s all you have.
“It was great to compete there, but in the end I couldn’t do my best.” Galia Dvorak
A year on for Rio and the hunger to perform better is still evident in Dvorak. Her assessment on her performance in Rio is honest. She still has a sincere acknowledgement of her fortune to play at the Games and Grundisch’s misfortune not to be there.
Happiness and heartbreak; the Olympic Games encompasses the full scope of emotions, and it’s all the better for it.