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SWC 2011, Beijing day 1: South Africa's Chad Le Clos earns three gold medals

Swimming World Cup

BEIJING, China - South Africa's Chad Le Clos made four trips to the medals podium during the first evening of the Beijing edition of the FINA/ARENA World Cup collecting three gold's and a silver in the 100m free, an event he swum for the first time in World Cup competition. The 19 year old is the current leader in the men's FINA World Cup rankings. Tonight's gold medal collection included championship titles in the 400m individual medley, 200m butterfly and the 100m individual medley.
 
When he finally got a break from racing and medal ceremonies Le Clos reflected on the motivation that he gained from the five medals that he earned at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics in Singapore. "It was my first exposure to international competition and I was really nervous, but I can still remember every one of those races." At the Youth Olympic he won the 200m individual medley and would bring home three silver medals in individual events and a relay bronze.

Just weeks later Le Clos would go on to win the 200m butterfly and the 400m individual medley events at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. His time in the 200m butterfly was a new Commonwealth Games Record. Le Clos is the reigning world champion in this event collecting the gold medal in Dubai last December at the FINA Short Course World Championships.

At the 2011 FINA Long Course World Championships Le Clos finished fifth in the 200m Fly, 13th in the 100m Fly & 10th in the 4x100m Medley Relay. In September Le Clos won five gold medals at the 2011 All Africa Games and one silver medal at the 2011 All Africa Games.

"I set goals for times that I wanted to achieve at these World Cup events without knowing who I would be competing against. World Cup competition was intended as a training exercise for me. I need to get used to racing like this and to prepare for multiple events and also South African relays that I hope to be a part of. I look at Phelps and Lochte and see how they swim multiple events and I need to prepare like them if I am going to challenge them at the Olympics."
 
"I had a really strong start in Dubai winning six events and at that moment I decided that I should set another goal for a top-3 finish in the FINA World Cup rankings. I'm really pleased with where I stand in the FINA rankings. The prize of $100,000 offers me a great deal of motivation to race well here and to finish strong in Japan."
 
"I'm really happy to be racing at the Water Cube. I was hoping that Ian Thorpe would be in the finals, but I understand that he's just making his comeback. In South Africa where swimming isn't a mainstream sport, everyone knows who Ian Thorpe is. I have been asked if it was true that he was coming out of retirement. It's great for our sport to have Ian back and hopefully he will be in London."
 
Thorpe swam in the preliminaries earlier today finishing 15th in the 100m freestyle, 50.21 and just missing the finals by placing 9th in the 100m individual medley in a time of 56.70.
 
The top women's performance was from Sweden's Therese Alshammar who earned a gold medal in the 100m butterfly scoring 962 FINA points with her time of 55.76. The Swedish Olympian finished second in the 50m freestyle. Alshammar is the women's leader in the FINA World Cup rankings after five editions have been contested. "I believe that I can get a lot better by racing hard as often as I can. I have raced at all but the first world cup. I'm pleased that what I do is working and pleased that I am still able to swim fast. People often ask how I can swim fast at my age and I tell them that age is not an issue. I believe that you have to work very hard for a long, long time. In that sense my age is an advantage because i have been doing exactly that. To win an Olympic gold medal is an easy dream for every athlete, but it is one of the goals that I am working at, not dreaming about."

Another Australian Olympian making her comeback in the Asian series of the FINA World Cup is Libby Trickett. Trickett finished 7th in the 100m butterfly. "I'm happy to say this was a faster swim than my time in Singapore and this was a faster field too. It's been tough racing while I'm tired and it's hard to get used to this, but hopefully tomorrow I will have a better swimming in the 50 free. What's required is patience, and honesty I'm not a very patient person. I want to be swimming faster and I want to be swimming fast! Realistically what's important is how I swim in March at our national selection event and it's my goal to qualify for London. Being back in Beijing is fantastic. I have many amazing memories of this pool, some good and some bad, but the Water Cube holds a special spot in my heart."
 
The Beijing World Cup is the second leg of the Singapore-Beijing-Tokyo series and it is the second time that the FINA World Cup has been held at the Water Cube, the venue for the swimming events of the 2008 Olympic Games.
 
Recap of Day One of the FINA/ARENA World Cup - Beijing Water Cube:
 
Women's 800m Freestyle: China's Zhou Lili won the first event of the meet in a time of 8:18.79, more than ten seconds faster than here swim in the morning preliminaries. In an event where three Chinese swimmers captured the medals Cao Shiyue finished second at 8:30.94 and Liu Jing placed third in 8:31.07.
 
Men's 100m Freestyle: Kyle Richardson of Australia just out touched South African Chad Le Clos to earn his first World Cup gold medal covering the 100m distance in 47.38. Le Clos who is leading the FINA World Cup rankings swam the 100m free for the first time finishing .01 behind Richardson. Jiang Haiqi of China was third at 48.00. Post-race, Richardson said: "I didn't feel great but it's a win and it's nice to get one of those early. I was trying to work on the skills we work on in practice. It's good to get in as much racing as possible over these three World Cup events. There's a lot of competition in the 100m free, it's both good and bad, but I guess the faster the field, the faster I can hope to be."
 
Women's 200m Freestyle: Australia's Blair Evans repeated as the gold medalist in this event touching the wall in 1:54.81. The Commonwealth Games relay gold medalist dropped more than half a second in the event from her time in Singapore. Australia swept the medals podium with teammates Merindah Dingjan and Kylie Palmer collecting the silver and bronze medals. Evans won both the 200m and the 400m events in Singapore: "It's great to get up and race and it's good to get a gold medal early in the meet. In Singapore I realized that I had a strong back end. I was looking for something close to my best time and this time is very close to the PB (personal best) that I set at the Short Course Worlds in Dubai last December. These World Cup meets are a fresh start to our racing season although short course isn't usually my strong suit. My goal was to build through the three meets and I’m getting faster as I go so everything seems to be on track. It's a good opportunity to practice the skills that I worked on during our heavy training before these meets."
 
Men's 50m Breaststroke: Christian Sprenger won the sprint breast event in a time of 26.64 beating Li Xiyan of China and his Australian teammate Brenton Rickard. Sprenger’s time was 0.03 of a second quicker than he swam in Singapore last Friday for gold: "We brought a big team to test the waters at these world cups and it's really important to get some good racing in. I was lucky at the finish with a good touch. I'm just practicing good racing skills under pressure."
 
Women's 100m Breaststroke: Leiston Pickett of Australia set a personal best time to win the event in 1:05.49 defeating Kim Hye Kin of Korea and Ji Liping of China. Pickett: "I'm pretty happy with this medal, it's a PB (personal best) for me and I'm happy anytime I swim a PB. I'm hoping to swim faster in Tokyo after getting a little more rest. We have been training really hard right before leaving for Singapore. It's my goal to qualify for a spot on our Olympic team, I'm sure that it's everyone's dream. I'm thrilled to swim well at this pool. I didn't swim in the 2008 Olympics so it's a great honor to swim here."
 
Men's 400m Individual Medley: Le Clos won this event for the fourth time, his time this evening was 4:07.35 bettering Austria's Markus Rogan and Zhang Lie of China.
 
Women's 100m Butterfly: Therese Alshammar of Sweden won in a time of 55.76 finishing ahead of Chinese swimmers Lu Ying and Jiao Liuyang.
 
Men's 100m Backstroke: Sui Xiaolei of China 50.99, Cheng Felyi 51.66 and Kosuke Hagino of Japan 51.76 climbed the podium. On his victory, Sui said: "This time was my personal best and I had expected to win."
 
Women's 50m Backstroke: Zhao Jing of China was the evening's champion finishing at 26.52 ahead of Australia's Rachel Goh, 26.60 and Geo Chang, 26.71 of China. Goh’s time of 26.60 was her best of the series so far, but a touch behind Jing from China who took gold in 26.52.
 
Men's 200m Butterfly: Chad Le Clos earned his second gold medal and his fifth title in this event during the World Cup series soundly defeating Christopher Wright of Australia, 1:53.32 and Chen Weiwu of China, 1:53.58.

Women's 200m Individual Medley: Korea's Choi Hye Ra touched the wall in 2:07.72 finishing ahead of China's Li Jiaxing and Zhou Min.
 
Men's 400m Freestyle: It was an all Chinese field except for Australian Robert Hurley. The Australian controlled his race to perfection to win in a time of 3:41.93. The Australian reeled in China’s Hao Yun (3:42.13) who went out over the first 100m a second under world record pace. Whispering "it was never in doubt, but I worried at one point that he might get away. I took the first 200m out easy thinking that I would chase him down at the end. I haven't raced in World Cup events for a few years but I'm glad that I am here to have an opportunity to get up and race and to bring a gold medal back home for Australia."
 
Women's 50m Freestyle: Australia's Emma McKeon snatched a victory away from veteran Therese Alshammar of Sweden in the sprint freestyle event in a time of 24.15. The Swedish Olympian earned the silver with her time of 24.16 and Australian teammate Cate Campbell collected the bronze medal, 24.26. McKeon, the 17-year-old sprinter, who made her senior debut at the World Short Course Championships in Dubai last year, was just 0.01 of a second too quick for seasoned short course swimmer Therese Alshammar from Sweden in the women’s 50m freestyle, winning in a new personal best time of 24.15.
 
“I didn't expect to go that fast tonight so it was a good surprise,” said McKeon. "My favoured event is the 100m freestyle so to get a win in the 50m is a bonus. It was nice to have a lot of teammates in the pool with me. I was happy with my time, today I focused on working on my dive because these are different starting blocks than those that I am used to. The world cups are part of my preparation for fast racing and then it's back home to train for our Australian selection event for the Olympic Games."
 
Men's 200m Breaststroke: Marco Koch of Germany won in a time of 2:04.73 bettering Naoya Tomita of Japan, 2:04.74 and Brenton Rickard of Australia, 2:06.17. On his performance, Koch said: "It was a very hard race and I'm glad that I won. I tried to go easy on the first 100m making sure that I could come back hard. I'm planning to swim even faster in Japan this weekend and I hope that I can make it to the final in a very fast field."
 
Men's 100m Individual Medley: South Africa's Chad Le Clos racing in lane 1 collected his third gold medal of the evening posting a 52.89 and bettering Kyle Richardson of Australia and Sui Xiaolei of China. The South African and the Australian stood in the same position on the medals podium during last weekend's Singapore World Cup, both swimming faster than the times the posted in Singapore. Le Clos said: "The World Cup series has been great for me and there is one more stage to go in Japan this weekend. I entered the World Cup event intending them to be part of my preparations for racing long course. I've been working on my starts and my turns during these events and trying to sharpen my skills."
 
Women's 200m Backstroke: Melissa Ingram of New Zeland collected a World Cup gold medal with her winning time of 2:03.00 bettering China's silver and bronze medallists Zhou Yanxin and You Yige. Ingram's margin of victory was .01 of a second. She finished third in Singapore in a time of 2:05.19: "I'm really happy with my race and the result tonight. It's my second PB and it's also a National Record. I'm also happy that I swam faster than I swam in Singapore. It's just amazing to be back at the Water Cube where I swam in the Olympics. I started my preparation for the London Olympics several months ago and I have been working hard to be ready for the Games."
 
Men's 50m Butterfly: Shi Feng of China bested Sam Ashby of Australia and teammate Chen Welwu in the sprint butterfly event, Feng's winning time was 23.47, far off his PB time of 22.92 in a speed suit. Ashy placed fourth in the Singapore World Cup and dropped .07 second to collect a silver medal. Shi Feng said after his race: "I just swam as fast as I could, I didn't think about my competitors. It's a very short race and you really don't have time to think about the race."