Five days already behind us. Today was another good day. Well, for us the spectators, not so much for the host nation. The heats this morning were really disastrous for Russia, as first Efimova, the 100m breaststroke champion, failed to advance to the semifinals in the 200m, and then the women’s 4x200m team failed to make the final. A personal disappointment for me was Yakov Toumarkin, who, after performing so well in his previous two events and advancing to the semis in both, failed to make the semis in his main event – the 200m backstroke… A real disappointment. Well, enough about disappointments, there were also some good things, right? Right. So, as my good friend Eminem says – let’s get down to business.
Women’s 100m Freestyle – Semifinals
Pellegrini opted out of this event to concentrate on the relay. Was that a good decision? We’ll see later in the post! Even without the Italian queen (who, let’s be honest, didn’t really stand a chance to win a medal here. Wait, who said that?!), this is a great event with many great names. Sarah Sjostrom looked fantastic, but so did the Campbell sisters from Australia. There is a real chance we’ll see both of them on the podium. And what about Ranomi Kromowidjojo – my personal favorite? I must admit, she didn’t look so great in the semis, but made it through. And there’s also Femke Heemskerk, she of the disastrous 200m final, where she started out too strong. Missy Franklin is also here. But she isn’t much of a sprinter, and there was a real chance she won’t make it to the final. She did, though, albeit from the 8th place. I don’t think she has a chance to be on the podium. Who will win it??? I want to say Kromowidjojo, with Sarah Sjostrom and one of the Campbell sisters (probably Cate) completing the podium… but who the fuck knows… let’s wait for tomorrow. Ranomi, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you!
Men’s 200m Individual Medley – Final
This was Lochte’s final, as everyone expected, although he didn’t win it so easily as one might expect. He was pressured from the start by the Brazilian – Thiago Pereira, who actually led until the final 50m. I even thought and said to Nearly Headless Nick, who sat right next to me, “WTF Ryan?!”, after he failed to pull through in the backstroke – his specialite. But he did capture the first place in the freestyle, and held on to finish first in 1:55.81. This is Lochte’s fourth (!!!) consecutive title in the event which for me is still associated with Michael Phelps. And overall he’s winning medals in it since 2005! Damn. I had no idea, truly. I believe Grant Hackett is the only other swimmer to win the same event in 4 consecutive World Championships (yeah, the 180m breaststroke). So all in all – an amazing achievement for Ryan! You da real MVP!
Second place was that Brazilian, Thiago Pereira, third in the event 2 years ago. And third was Shun Wang from China.
Women’s 200m Breaststroke – Semifinals
I don’t really have anything interesting to say about this event. Rikke Moller Pedersen, the WR holder, is the favorite in my opinion, and she qualified with the fastest time. After being the favorite two years ago and then blowing it out in the final by losing to Efimova, I think Pedersen will manage to fulfill her potential this time. She needs to watch out for Micah Lawrence, the bronze medalist from two years ago and the swimmer with the second best time in the semis. I was sad to see Hrafnhildur Luthersdottir from Iceland lose the swim-off and thus missing out the final. I really like her name.
Men’s 100m Freestyle – Final
Wow, what a shock this one was! I betted on Cameron McEvoy, the awesome Aussie, but he was only 4th at the halfway mark. The swimmer who led the group by 50m was the surprising Santo Condorelli from Italy Canada, but he faded in the second half and had the second worse second 50m. He finished only 4th. Nathan Adrian? He had a terrible final, finishing 7th. McEvoy picked up speed during the second 50m and near the 80m mark it looked as if he’ll win it, but then Ning Zetao came out of nowhere and stole the gold medal right from under his knows. 47.84 for Ning, 47.95 for McEvoy! Who would have thought – a Chinese swimmer winning the 100m?! WTF?! It’s like a Trinidadian will win the Javelin contest in the Olympics! Wait, what? Anyway. this was a huge surprise. Federico Grabich from Argentina won the bronze, completing a truly surprising podium.
BTW, the swimmers received their medals from the great Alexander Popov. And speaking of Russian swimmers, the Russian Eurosport commentators kept on discussing Vlad Morozov’s chances in the final and his false-start yesterday, and came to the conclusion the he didn’t false-started – since he came out of the blocks after the starting beep. His reactions were simply very very very very fast. Jesus fuck, how fucking biased can you fucking be?! I get it – he’s your swimmer, you’re supporting him, but can’t you be professional about it?! Fuck.
Women’s 200m Butterfly – Final
I didn’t really like this final. So I’ll summarize it and then we’ll move on. Gold – Japanese Hosszu, a.k.a. Hoshi. Silver – Camille Adams from the USA, whom I noticed swimming with a piercing in her knows in yesterday’s semifinals. Bronze – Yufei Zhang from China, about whom I have nothing funny to say. BTW, the ladies were miles behind Zige Liu’s WR from Rome 2009 – almost four seconds of difference (2:05.56 vs. 2:01.81).
Men’s 200m Breaststroke – Semifinals
No Cameron van der Burgh and no Adam Peaty, who both swam horribly in the heats this morning. But we do have the king here – Daniel Gyurta, who won a silver medal in this event as a 15 year-old boy back in Athens 2004. I was really aghast then, I mean – I was only 17 years old and here comes this kid who’s years younger than me, and he wins a fucking medal in the Olympics! Something that even the great Michael Phelps couldn’t do (finished 5th in Sydney 2000 at the 200m butterfly as a 15 year old). Then he disappeared from the radar for a few years, until resurfacing in Berlin 2009. Since then – 3 World titles and an Olympic title. He’s been dominating this event like Zed was dominating the gimp in “Pulp Fiction”. However, he didn’t look like Zed in the semis, finishing only third in his heat. Was that just him saving his strength for the final?
Marco Koch, the German, looked great, and of course there’s also Kevin Cordes and the Brit Willis. The best time belonged to Japanese swimmer Koseki (Kitajima’s heir?), but I wasn’t blown away by him and I don’t think he swam in a smart way. My money is on Gyurta, but who knows – every king’s reign comes to an end… just ask John Holmes.
Women’s 50m Backstroke – Final
I don’t know whether to call this one surprising or not. After all, the winner – Fu Yuanhui, was the silver medalist two years ago (when she was 17. Which means now she’s… 20? 28? Erm… let me think about it), and set the best time in the semis. She missed the WR by a mere 0.05 of a second, 27.11 to 27.06. Silver medal went to Etiene Medeiros from Brazil (was fourth in Barcelona), and the bronze to the former great 110m hurdler from China – Liu Xiang. Emily Seebohm, the 100m champion, finished only 4th, and the pretty Nielsen from Denmark only 5th.
Men’s 200m Backstroke – Semifinals
A great swim by Mitch Larkin, the Aussie 100m champion. He set the best time by a margin of 0.81 seconds, and I reckon he’s the hot favorite (and he’s also the favorite in terms of swimming) for tomorrow’s final. Another swimmer who can make a splash (ba-dum-tss!) in the final is the Russian Rylov, who won the other semi, and of course Tyler Clary, the Olympic champion and bronze medalist from the two previous Worlds. The Japanese Irie didn’t look as sharp as he always does, but he keeps getting them silver and bronze medals – he’s like the Laszlo Cseh of the backstroke, and I wouldn’t count him out as well. The second American – Ryan Murphy, is also a candidate for the podium. My personal bet? 1) Larkin, 2) Irie, 3) Rylov.
Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay – Final
This was the jewel in today’s program. Obviously the Americans were the runaway favorites, and with both Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky you would have to be a fool to bet against them. The queston remained – who can win the other medals? France looked as though they might threaten the podium, and obviously there is always Australia. Italy had arguably the greatest relay swimmer – Pellegrini, who singlehandedly gave them the best time in the heats, and the Swedes had the wonder that is Sarah Sjostrom, who singlehandedly (I think I really like this word) brought them to the final.
Sjostrom was the first swimmer for Sweden, an arguable tactic, but I guess they wanted to intimidate all the other teams and make them chase them. Well, Sjostrom is good, great, colossal, but can she swim faster than Missy Franklin – USA’s first swimmer? Well, it turns out that she fucking can!!! She beat Franklin into submission, swimming an astonishing 1:54.31, a time which would have easily won her the title in the individual 200m. That was really mind-fucking seeing her do that. And to think she pulled out of the individual 200m to focus on the relay! WOW WOW WOW! Franklin recorded an excellent split of 1:55.95, not too far from her time in the individual final (1:55.49), but she was still more than a second and a half behind Sjostrom.
Can the Swedes hold on to the lead??? Their second swimmer was great, and although the gap from USA was shortened to 0.78, they were still in the lead. The Italian girls fell to 7th by this time, but I thought that if they can keep a reasonable gap from third place, which was held by GBR or China interchangeably, then Federica can definitely make the gap her bitch and pull out a medal for Italy.
Sweden’s third swimmer was Michelle Coleman, a very good swimmer. She went out hard and returned the gap to more than two whole seconds at the 550m mark. Can the Swedes pull it off?!?! I knew that Ledecky will be the fourth swimmer and I was rooting for her, but can she close a gap that big?! But in her final 50m Coleman’s engine broke, and the Americans’ third girl – Katie Mclaughlin, took advantage of it and swam a fantastic final 50m, to shorten the gap to only 0.34. Well, that was really peanuts for Ledecky, and she closed it in the first pool. She swam beautifully and recorded a split of 1:55.64, third fastest in the pool behind Sjostrom and one mystery girl. An easy gold for the USA, fourth gold medal for Ledecky here and 8th overall in the Worlds, and first gold for Missy Franklin. We ceased to be surprised by that girl’s abilities… she’s competing against history now.
But what about the other medals??? When Pellegrini finally jumped in the pool, Italy was 5th, 1.27 seconds behind third-place GBR. I’ve seen Federica do amazing things in the pool, but what she did today was one of the top 3 evar in my opinion. She first closed the gap to fourth place, then to the third. She swam closely to China who also had a very strong final swimmer, who recorded a great split of 1:55.94. But she was no match for Pellegrini on a day like this. She overcame her too, to finish solid second, 3 seconds behind the USA. Her split – 1:54.73! WOW! That was Pellegrini at her absolute finest! A great display and her second silver medal at these Championships (and 9th overall). Sweden had a horrible fourth swimmer, recording a split of over 2 minutes. They faded from 1st to 4th, with third place going to China.
An awesome finish to a good day. Relays are really great. I think I love the swimming relays more than I like the track & field ones…
So, let’s meet again tomorrow, same time same place, allright?