News round-up from Germany
After more than three years of renovation and an amount of 16.6m € spent, the so-called “Schwimmoper” has been reopened in Wuppertal. The symbolic “baptism” was named after Peter Nocke, the nine-time European champion (1974 and 1977) who also got the gold in 1975 in the 4x200m freestyle representing West Germany at the World Championships in Cali, Colombia.
Mind over Matter
The success of Junya Koga, a Japanese backstroke star, owes more to the strength of mind than to hard work. His experiences of karate practice have given him new strength and led him to new heights in swimming.
The 22-year-old sprinter, who won the gold medal in the men’s 100m backstroke at the FINA World Championships Rome 2009, began to attend Karate practice in December last year after his acupuncturist, Hiroshi Shiraishi, introduced him to karate master Kenji Ushiro. “Thank all the people around you and do not forget it,” told him Shiraishi, who is known for taking care of many top athletes, such as former athletics’ super star Carl Lewis at Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 and Daichi Suzuki, who won the gold medal in the 100m backstroke at the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Ushiro, who learnt the old-style karate of Okinawa, had advised him, “Be prepared in your mind”.
North America is coming back
The last FINA Synchronised Swimming World Trophy, held in November 2009 in Montreal (CAN), gave fans a rare glimpse of something that had not occurred since 1996: a country other than Russia at the top of the podium. Three gold medals (highlight team, thematic duet and thematic team) secured Canada’s victory at the World Trophy, opening a door that had been closed for more than a decade.
For 25 years, the United States and Canada made a “gold-medal relay” of the main competitions around the globe, but the Russians have exerted their domination since 1997. With Canada’s late success, many synchronised swimming fans and specialists now ask the question: “Can the ‘founders’ regain their former glory?"
Mitcham, the man with the Midas touch
Matthew Mitcham is a young man who knows his place in the world of diving and more importantly knows his place in the world. The 2008 Olympic diving gold medallist wants to make a difference, especially in a sports mad country dominated by four football codes and what seems like a continuous game of cricket.
One star, one discipline: Trent Grimsey
Australia and open water swimming are deeply connected. The reasons are many: the first, and most obvious, is the fact that the enormous country is surrounded by water; the second is the passion of Australians for swimming, a discipline in which they share world supremacy with the United States; the third is a reason that will remain forever a part of FINA’s history: the first open water swimming event contested at a FINA World Championships was held in the 1991 edition of the competition in… Perth, along the Swan River in Western Australia.
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