Andrei Minakov (RUS) and Katinka Hosszu (HUN) were the most prolific winners (two gold each) of the second and final day of the inaugural 2020 leg of the FINA Champions Swim Series, held in Shenzhen (CHN) on January 14-15. The swimmers now proceed to Beijing, where the second meet of the year will take place on January 18-19, 2020. In terms of nations, today’s session consecrated once more China, with four wins, and the Netherlands with three titles.
Minakov (2019 silver world medallist in the 100m fly and winner of seven medals at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games) started strong, with a convincing victory in the men’s 100m fly, controlling the race from the start. He touched home in 51.73, in front of silver medallist Matthew Temple from Australia (51.92). Much less comfortable was the duel with his teammate Vladimir Morozov in the 100m free. The winner of the 2019 FINA Swimming World Cup tried until the very last metre to catch Minakov, but his effort was vain. The 17-year-old touched for gold in 48.94, while Morozov got the silver in 49.02.
Among women, after an initial day without any gold medal, Hosszu appeared strong this evening, with convincing wins in the 200m fly (2:07.68) and 200m IM (2:10.42). In the remaining two races in which she took part, the Magyar great – three-time Olympic champion in Rio 2016 - wasn’t so successful, concluding fourth in both the 100m back and 200m free.
Team China leaves Shenzhen with nine gold medals, after five on Day 1 and four more in the second finals’ session. The first one to shine was Liu Xiang, already winner in the 50m back, who took this time the title in the 50m free. In the men’s 50m back, the situation was similar: after the gold in the 100m (his pet event, being 2017 and 2019 world champion) in the initial day, Xu Jiayu was the best in the shorter distance. Yang Junxuan delighted the fans at the Shenzhen Universiade Natatorium by touching first in the women’s 200m free (1:55.52).
However, the arena almost came down with the triumph of local superstar Sun Yang in the men’s 400m free. After being defeated in the 200m by Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys in the initial session, the Chinese champion (six Olympic and 16 world medals) was decided to confirm his credentials and was able to control the pace of the race. In the end, Sun took gold in 3:44.07, while Rapsys had to content for silver in 3:46.62.
The Dutch successful saga had three different protagonists: in the women’s 100m back, Kira Toussaint was the fastest in 59.52, while her teammate Ranomi Kromowidjojo (four Olympic and 17 world podium presences) left no chances to her main opponents in the 50m fly (gold in 25.78). Finally, after a thrilling race on Day 1 in the 100m, Arno Kamminga shone again in Shenzhen, taking this time the top honours in the men’s 200m breaststroke (2:09.00).
From Canada, Markus Thormeyer gave the sole gold of the competition for his country, in the men’s 200m back, while Belarus can be proud of its sole winner in Shenzhen, Ilya Shymanovich, in the men’s 50m breast (27.28). Finally, Martina Carraro can also be satisfied with her participation in this first meet of the Series: after a convincing win in the 50m breast, the Italian ace was also the best in the 100m (1:06.85).
Closing the session, Team Di Liddo won the 4x100m medley mixed relay in a time of 3:48.13. The members of the team were Apostolos Christou (GRE, M), Yan Zibei (CHN, M), Elena Di Liddo (ITA, W) and Ajna Kesely (HUN, W).
Kira Toussaint (NED), gold, women’s 100m back:
“It was a very tough race. That's very hard. But I'm actually really happy with the time. I've never been so fast in January. It’s great to swim fast after a break for Christmas. I had 10 days off for Christmas and then we started back up on January 6, just a week ago. I got some lifting during the vacation to stay fit, I think that's very important to do something. I like the direct-final format because I think people will swim faster races and have more rest. You can even still do some training in the morning while the final takes place in the evening. That's what I like about it, that you can easily fit it in your training schedule”.
Liu Xiang (CHN), gold, women’s 50m free:
“I got a cold after I arrived here three days ago, so I did not expect to win with a time equalling my personal best, the Asian record. I think I am in a good shape because I improved my physical a lot during the winter. I was in self-doubt after I lost the rematch in the semi-finals and missed the final at the Gwangju Worlds in 50m free. But now, I regained my confidence”.
Sun Yang (CHN), gold, men's 400m free:
“That is the comfortable distance I like and the race I enjoy all the time. 3:44.07, I am happy with the time in the beginning of the year. I can be faster if I am better prepared. My 400m free remains smooth all the time, showing that my training is effective. My goal this year is to win at the Olympic Games”.
Katinka Hosszu (HUN), gold, women’s 200m fly and 200m IM:
“I had four races tonight. I think we're not really used to such a fast field in January. So it's definitely exciting, everyone needs to get ready in these days in January. It's fun for myself, since I just came off a training camp. It’s still hard to get up and race... I actually skipped Christmas this year. I went to a training camp right after the short course Europeans. So, I've been training for the past four weeks. I was really happy with some races and respective times”.
Andrei Minakov (RUS), gold, men’s 50m free and 100m fly:
“Two victories in one night is very challenging. I did not compete since last autumn, I just stayed at home and did not go to any competitions. I was just swimming, practicing and recovering. So, I was full of energy coming here. I am fresh from competition and did specific preparation work for the Champions Swim Series. Next, we will do training camp and get faster and faster”.
Xu Jiayu (CHN), gold, men’s 50m back:
“It is very close to my personal best. I think the audience and the direct final with three other top swimmers helped me to perform at my best. All the victories will be the foundation to the Olympic Games. In next leg in Beijing, we will also have hard battles”.
*Quotes collected by Zhou Xin, FINA Media Committee Member
FULL RESULTS: http://bit.ly/380wd1C