Tunisia’s Olympic swimming champ Ahmed Hafnaoui likely to miss Paris 2024

The 400-metre freestyle gold medallist from 2021 has been suffering from an injury that could keep him out of the Games.

Ahmed Hafnaoui won the 800m and 1500-metre freestyle titles at the World Aquatics Championships in Japan last year [File: Marko Djurica/Reuters]

Tunisia’s Olympic 400-metre freestyle champion Ahmed Hafnaoui is unlikely to defend his title at this year’s Games in Paris due to an injury.

The 21-year-old’s participation at the Paris Olympics was cast in doubt after Mehrez Bousyan, head of the Tunisian Olympic Committee, told a locally televised sports programme that Hafnaoui will miss “a significant portion” of the Games, according to Africa Aquatics.

However, the swimmer has refused to rule himself out completely.

“I’m currently suffering from an injury, and I don’t know whether or not I will participate in the Olympics,” the 21-year-old Tunisian swimmer told AFP news agency on Wednesday.

He did not give details of the injury.

Boussayene said “nothing is confirmed”, adding the swimmer had a “developing injury” in his comments to AFP.

“More than just medals, we seek above all the wellbeing of this young man who brought us so much joy,” said Boussayene.

“He will have other world competitions.”

Hafnaoui’s win at the Tokyo Olympics sent a wave of wild celebrations through the North African nation.

The then 18-year-old finished in three minutes, 43.26 seconds despite being the slowest qualifier to start the final.

Hafnaoui went on to win the 800-metre and 1,500-metre freestyle titles at last year’s World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

If he swims in Paris this year, he has a chance to match Tunisia’s top Olympic swimmer Oussama Mellouli, who won two golds and a bronze in the 2008 and 2012 Games.

The country’s top Olympic medallist is long-distance runner Mohammed Gammoudi, winner of four medals, including one gold in the 5,000-metre in 1968, between 1964 and 1972.

Source: News Agencies