SWC 2011, Beijing day 2: Le Clos collects six gold and 1 silver medals
BEIJING, China - The South African swimmer bid a farewell to the "Water Cube", gaining inspiration from a venue that hosted the last Olympic Games. He is leaving Beijing with seven medals in his luggage, six of them golden. He is squarely in the lead of the men's FINA World Cup rankings and on pace to collect the $100,000 men's FINA World Cup overall series prize month in the final edition this weekend in Tokyo.
"I'm very happy with my performances in Beijing. Tonight was a tougher day for me even though the events were shorter and easier. I'm definitely pleased that this meet is over. I had a two and a half hour nap today and I woke up delirious. It was hard to get up and race today, but I'm pleased with three gold medals tonight and to know the end isn't too far off."
"When I was younger I was inspired by Terence Parkin, the South African Olympian who medalled in the Sydney Olympic Games. He was coached by Graham Hill who is also my coach, so I have a connection to him. Terence is deaf and yet he raced and beat many able bodied athletes in the Olympic Games."
"I'm especially pleased with my silver medal in the 100m free yesterday. It was the only time that I raced the 100m freestyle but my time was a PB (personal best) and only .01 second away from (my seventh) gold medal. Any athlete is likely to be disappointed with a race that wasn't his best. Hopefully I can beat Kyle (Richardson of Australia) the next time we race. My best race of the FINA World Cup series was the 200m fly in Berlin. I swam a 1:50.15, only 1 second off of the world record."
Men's 100m Butterfly podium: Christopher Wright (AUS), Chad Le Clos (RSA) and Chen Weiwu (CHN)
By his own count the South African has collected 22 gold medals during the six FINA World Cup events this season plus six silvers and two bronze medals. He failed to medal in only two events during the six FINA World Cups he has raced in. He swam outside of the medals for fourth place finishes in Moscow in the 100m fly and 200m individual medley in Berlin. Le Clos beat Michael Phelps in the 100m fly in the Moscow World Cup event, the South African posted a 50.97 time and Phelps finished fifth in 51.13.
"Honestly the reason that I am doing all these World Cup events is to prepare me for the opportunity to race Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte who swim back to back events all the time. I'm really excited to race these great athletes. It will be a challenge to race against them and to try to beat them."
"I can't say what might happen in the future, but to be mentioned in the same sentence as Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Ian Thorpe is a real honor for me."
A recap of the Day Two Finals in Beijing:
Men's 1500m Freestyle: In an all China final, Hao Yun won the gold medal in a time of 14:40.15 followed by Dai Jun at 14:42.97 and Zhong Guixu quite some distance back finishing in 15:12.08.
Women's 100m Freestyle: The final included five Australians but it was Emma McKeon who repeated as the FINA World Cup champion, less than a week after her victory in Singapore. McKeon's swim of 53.09 wasn't as fast as the 52.41 in Singapore but it was fast enough for her first gold medal of the Beijing series. Team-mate Cate Campbell finished second in 53.13, improving her time and position from the Singapore event. Tang Yi of China was third in 53.28 while Libby Trickett finished fifth in 53.96, her first swim under 54.0 seconds since her comeback. She was very complimentary of her teammate: "There is a little pressure on Emma but she handles it beautifully. McKeon: "It's pretty good to win a medal today. I'm happy with that swim. I do still get pretty nervous, but I am getting used to it. The level is very competitive here and we are lucky to be racing against the best Chinese athletes and to be getting some great racing experience. This is part of my preparation for our Olympic selection event in March."
Men's 200m Freestyle: Earning his first gold medal of the evening, Chad Le Clos bettered his winning time from the Singapore edition finishing at 1:43.62, ahead of Jiang Haiqi of China (1:43.89) and Kyle Richardson of Australia (1:45.21). Le Clos finished second to world record holder Paul Biederman in the Stockholm and Berlin events.
Women's 50m Breaststroke: Leiston Pickett (AUS) repeated her gold medal performance with a time faster than she swam last weekend in Singapore, 30.23. Second place went to Kim Hye Jin of Korea in 30.63 and Olivia Halicek (AUS), the silver medallist in Singapore in this event swam a 30.98 for the bronze medal. Pickett: "I really wanted to go sub 30 tonight but i just didn't get there but i will still take the win. That gives me something to work on and a bit of a goal for Tokyo."
Men's 100m Breaststroke: Christian Springer (AUS) repeated as the champion of Asian series posting a 57.99, just .08 second slower than the gold medal he collected in Singapore. Li Xiayan of China was second in 57.99 and Sprenger's teammate Brenton Rickard was third, 58.21. Sprenger said post-race: "I wasn't feeling as ready today as I was in Singapore, but the .14 second margin was just enough to take the win. It was more about nailing my starts and finishes and having something left at the end of the race. I have tried a few new things here and in Singapore, some techniques that we worked on in practice, and they seem to be working for me. In the short course pool the start and turns takes on a greater importance, but this event in long course can be more exhausting as we spend more time above the water. It's special to race in the Water Cube, but the opportunity to race in London will be quite nice too. Racing here gives me more confidence."
Women's 400m Individual Medley: China's Zhou Min earned a gold medal for her country in the winning time of 4:30.66. Japan's Miyu Otsuka earned the silver medal swimming 4:31.43 followed by Australia's Ellen Fullerton in a time of 4:33.19.
Men's 100m Butterfly: Le Clos (RSA) earned his second gold medal of the evening posting a time of 50.93 beating Australian Christopher Wright, 51.07 and Chen Weiwu of China, 51.41. Le Clos and Wright swam to gold and silver medal finishes in Singapore last Saturday. Le Clos was 50.63 last weekend: "I just thought I could go out quite hard but my time was a little slower than I swam in Singapore."
Women's 100m Backstroke: China took the gold and the bronze medals in this event. Gao Chang's winning time was 57.22 and teammate Zhou Yanxin stopped the clock at 57.78. Rachel Goh of Australia was second in 57.40, a 57.30 swim in Singapore earned her a gold medal.
Men's 50m Backstroke: Sun Xiaolei of China won the sprint backstroke title in 23.34. Cheng Faiyi of China was silver in 23.89 and Omar Pinzon of Colombia settled for the bronze medal in 23.98, considerably faster than his bronze medal swim last weekend in Singapore. Sun said: "Last December I placed second in the FINA World Short Course Championships (his time was 23.13) and that was my fastest result. This is just practice for me, my main focus must be on the long course in the 100m event if I want to compete in the London Olympic Games."
Women's 200m Butterfly: Choi Hye Ra of Korea bettered her Singapore result posting another gold medal performance at 2:03.65 in this event. The silver medal went to Sweden's Anna Martina Granstroem who posted 2:05.02, faster than her Singapore bronze medal result. Australia's Jessica Schipper swam 2:05.89 for the bronze medal. Liu Zige, China's reigning World Record holder, placed fourth in a time of 2:06.77.
Men's 200m Individual Medley: Le Clos fell behind Austrian Markus Rogan at the 150m mark but closed the gap with a 26.06 final leg to handily defeat his southern California training partner. Le Clos hit the finish pads at 1:55.04, Rogan's silver medal swim was 1:56.33 followed by China's Liu Weijia in 1:56.61. Le Clos won this event in Dubai, Moscow and Singapore, and he placed second in Stockholm and fourth in Berlin.
Women's 400m Freestyle: Blair Evans set an Australian record in this event, shaving almost 3 seconds off her gold medal performance last weekend in Singapore. Aussie teammate Kylie Palmer finished second again in 4:03.04, followed by Chen Shiyun of China who earned the bronze medal in a time of 4:04.73. Evans said on her performance: "It's my first Australian record. I knew what I had to do today. It was a little rough for me this morning after last night's 200m. This is our hard training phase but I now know that I have a lot more in me. I always learn something from my fracases. I gained a lot of self belief. I know that the training I have been doing is working. The short course pool isn't my strong suit but today's race was awesome from start to finish. I went a little bit faster than I expected."
Men's 50m Freestyle: The 21.75 second swim in the sprint free by Kyle Richardson (AUS) wasn't faster than his Singapore result, but it was fast enough for a gold medal, an upgrade over the silver he earned last weekend in the first Asian leg of the World Cup. Shi Yang of China swam 22.00 for the silver medal, an upgrade from the bronze he collected last weekend. His teammate Shi Tengfei swam 22.03 to earn the bronze medal. Richardson said after the race: "My performances have been pretty solid. This is tough racing coming here without a rest or a taper, but I know that I certainly have more to give. The race was solid, a little slower than in Singapore but I do hope to swim faster still. I have learned that flying and racing is tough! I was not part of the 2008 Olympics so this is my first time racing at the Water Cube. It's an impressive venue and I get goose bumps to think that there was an Olympic Games in this pool. I'm back in the pool for some hard training as soon as I get home to Australia."
Women's 200m Breaststroke: Kanako Watanabe repeated as the Asian series gold medallist for Japan, first in 2:19.05 followed by her teammate Keiko Fukudome, 2:20.36. Kim Hye Jin of Korea was third in 2:20.59.
Women's 100m Individual Medley: China's Jiai Liuyang golden touch was at 50.50, faster than her 1:00.84 swim last weekend that netted her a silver medal in Singapore. Her teammate Zhao Jing was second at 59.50. Australia's Olivia Halicek who swam under the minute mark to earn a gold in Singapore swam 1:01.01 for the bronze medal this evening.
Men's 200m Backstroke: Colombia's Omar Pinzon's new personal best time of 1:50.46 blew away his competitors from an outside lane. Kazuki Watanabe of Japan swam 1:52.20 for the silver medal. China's Sun Xiaolei touched the wall at 1:52.36 for the bronze medal. Pinzon said: "Did I expect to swim well? I did and I didn't but it's my best time by almost 2 seconds. I'm very pleased. I never set limits for myself. I could have swum another 200m right after the finish, I had so much energy. I was a little nervous racing against some great Chinese and Japanese athletes. I had the advantage of racing in the outside lane where some people could not see me. I will be training at altitude in Colombia and them I am back to Los Angeles where I am training with Coach Dave Salo in preparation for the London Olympic Games."
Women's 50m Butterfly: Theresa Alshammar of Sweden nailed the touch pad at 25.40 for a repeat gold medal in this event, having slipped from her 25.01 performance that won the event last weekend. Lu Ying of China posted a 25.52 for the silver medal followed by Jiao Liuyang's bronze result of 25.76. Alshammar said: "I always look to see what I can improve. There are always heaps of things to improve. It's very nice to come away with a good swim in the 50m fly, it's a favorite event of mine. The Chinese swimmers are strong in this event and I am pleased to swim one of my best races against Lu Yin."
"I'm just focused on racing here, but I am aware that this event is run and managed very well. I competed here last year and if Beijing hosts it again in the future I will be back. I only hope that next year the entire Chinese national team is racing here. China has so many strong swimmers and it would be great to have all of them in my races. Do I think racking keeps me younger, I wish! My coach has a plan for me through the Olympic Games. In a typical year I race more than 100 times. A completion is great preparation for the next important race."