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London Evening Standard

The European Aquatic Championships are returning to London for the first time since 1938, a period when Adolf Hitler was trying to use sport to prove the superiority of the Aryan race.

 

Helping promote the competition in May is former diver Edna Child, who won a bronze in the three-metre springboard event that year.

 

While the forthcoming championships — billed as the biggest sporting extravaganza in the capital since the 2012 Olympics — will be at Zaha Hadid’s Aquatic Centre, Ms Child, 94, competed at the old Wembley pool, which she toured recently.

 

The Romford grandmother said: “Starting in the 1936 Olympics, Hitler was suddenly promoting the master race theory. We heard at that time what was happening in Germany. He sent a team for the European championships with a lot of men and two women.

 

“In the springboard, Gerda Daumerlang was supposed to win but Betty Slade won. I got the bronze [Daumerlang won silver]. Suse Heinze, who was supposed to win the 10-metre high board, also didn’t.”

 

The prowess of the German men meant they headed the medals table with Great Britain fifth but the German women did not win a gold. Ms Child said, “Beating Germany’s women was the best feeling”, adding with a laugh, “I don’t think they ever came again.”

 

She pointed out that while modern swimmers are superior, athletes in her time had outdoor pools and the weather to contend with. “Sport in my day was purer. It’s very sad that they will [use] underhand [means] to try to win. Nobody offered me drugs. I never ever heard of drugs.”

 

Swimmer Aimee Willmott believes British sportsmen and women are “drug-free” following the cheating scandals that have enveloped other countries.

 

Willmott, who will be racing at the European Championships in London, said the recent doping revelations were “disappointing”.

 

The competition will be the first major international event since the drugs scandal that has rocked athletics and could see Russian athletes banned from this summer’s Rio Olympics.

 

Willmott told the Standard: “It’s disappointing that there are so many countries coming out with allegations of cheating in lots of different sports.

 

“The only thing we in Britain can do is know that we are not doing any of that, we are testing athletes as often as possible. I am obviously regularly drug-tested so I know that everything I am doing is proving that I am a clean athlete and the rest of Britain follows the same mantra. We can’t do anything about what the other countries are doing.”

 

The board of directors of the World Swimming Coaches Association and the equivalent body representing the US Swimming Coaches Association have backed calls by former British swimming coach Bill Sweetenham for an independent professional review of Fina, swimming’s world body.

      

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