Kira Toussaint was six when she had her first Olympic experience, getting up in the middle of the night accompanied by a TV crew to watch the swimming finals from Sydney 2000 where she was spellbound by Inge de Bruijn.
Kira’s mother is Jolanda de Rover who won gold in the 200 backstroke and claimed 100 bronze at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
No Dutch swimmer had won gold in the subsequent three Olympics but De Bruijn qualified fastest for the final of the 100 butterfly in Sydney.
A TV crew was present at Kira’s home to capture the reaction as De Bruijn won the first of her three titles in Sydney.
Kira, who holds the European long-course 50m backstroke record of 27.10 and the short-course mark of 25.60, said:
“The biggest thing was that we were allowed to wake up in the middle of the night to watch swimming. I think that impressed me more than the camera crew showing up – that we were just allowed to wake up: that’s cool.
And that’s my first memory of watching the Olympics.”
As a child, though, having an Olympic champion in the family had little initial impact.
Kira said: “When you grow up and your dad is a dentist it’s normal that your dad is a dentist but for most people it’s not normal. So the fact my mum was Olympic champion was normal!
It wasn’t until later that I was like ‘actually that’s really cool’.
Not many people in the world become Olympic champion so it wasn’t until later that I knew what it actually meant.”