By Theresa Gonzalez
“I missed out on London, so my first Olympic Games experience was devastating,” says Team Visa athlete Daiya Seto. Placing third in trials, the gifted swimmer from Japan watched his first Olympic Games ticket slip away by just milliseconds. But not long after the disappointing loss, Seto hit a winning streak, striking gold at the 2012 FINA World Swimming Championships in the 400m individual medley and setting a new record for Asia. In fact, 400 proves to be his golden number. Seto surprised the world of swimming when he took home gold in the 400m individual medley at the 2013 World Aquatics Championships and earned his first world championship title in a long course (50m) pool. He did it again at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships and heads into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games defending two back-to-back world championship titles against a group of highly competitive men’s swimming hopefuls.
“My father is a really positive person,” says Seto of his inspiration. “If I say that something is impossible, he’ll always reply, ‘Say something positive and your actions will follow your words.’” His father’s advice made a memorable impact at the World Aquatic Championships in Kazan, Russia last year. “I was expected to win medals in my first two races, the 200m individual medley and the butterfly, but I failed in both.” He had one more race—the 400m individual medley—and was determined to win, keeping in mind positive thoughts that he was good enough for gold. In a case of father knows best, Seto scored gold in the 400m final, earning him an automatic ticket to Rio this August. At an impressive 4:08.50 time, Seto’s performance would have earned him the silver medal in London.
Seto joins Team Visa, a group of world-class Olympic and Paralympic athletes who embody Visa’s values of acceptance, partnership and innovation, with his teammate Kanako Watanabe, another athlete to watch in Rio and one of top 10 fastest female 100m breaststroke swimmers in the world. Through the Team Visa program, Visa has supported more than 1,000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games hopefuls by providing them with financial and marketing support in the run-up to and during the Olympic Games. “It's a great honor to be a part of the team sponsored by Visa,” says Seto, “and to be able to compete among the world’s top athletes.”
With his first Olympic Games under his belt come August, Seto already looks forward to returning in 2020 when Tokyo, his home city, hosts the Olympic Games. “By then, I’ll be at the peak of my swimming career,” he says with his now-trademark positivity, “so I will be giving everything I can to win.”
Theresa Gonzalez is a senior writer for Visa and the author of two Chronicle Books titles. She lives in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter @theresagonzalez.
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