Published: Jul 30, 2012 04:02:56 PM Updated: Aug 28, 2012 04:51:10 PM
Women's 100m butterfly final
On the opening night she helped Australia to their first gold of the 2012 London Olympic Games when she led off the victorious 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay team and on the second night Alicia Coutts was back on the dais after storming home over the last lap to win bronze in the women’s 100m butterfly.
Coutts, who was the ‘Queen of Delhi’ at the 2010 Commonwealth Games where she won five gold medals, came from last at the turn to clock a time of 56.94 and finish behind American Dana Vollmer’s stunning new world record of 55.98. China’s Lu Ying won the silver in 56.87.
The minor placings reversed the results from the last year’s FINA World Championships in Shanghai where Vollmer beat Coutts and Lu.
Coutts had been aiming to become the third consecutive Australian to claim the event following Petria Thomas (2004) and Libby Trickett (2008) – and she arrived in London with every shot but Vollmer was too good.
If she hadn’t glided into the wall at the finish Vollmer may have lopped even more than the 0.08 seconds she sliced off the former world record set by Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom at the controversial ‘shiny swimsuit’world championships of 2009.
After the race Coutts said she wasn’t sure how to feel about the result.
“I have a bit of mixed emotions about the race,” Coutts said. “I’m glad to come away with a medal.
“Coming into the race I was nervous but my coach said ‘go in with the attitude you won a gold medal last night so there’s no pressure’.
“I choked on water with 15 to go so I couldn’t breathe.
“It’s happened to me a couple of times. I’m just glad it didn’t happen at the 50 and I had to stop.
“I finished third but if I had a perfect race I could have won silver but what happens, happens.”
Coutts will be back in the water in the 200m individual medley heats on the morning of Day 3.
Men’s 200m freestyle semi-finals
Thomas Fraser-Holmes has stormed into his second final of these Olympic Games after he posted the eighth fastest time in the men’s 200m freestyle semi-finals.
The Newcastle raised Gold Coaster swam a personal best time of 1:46.80 to move into fifth on the Australian all-time list behind Ian Thorpe, Kenrick Monk, Grant Hackett and Patrick Murphy. Monk finished 13th fastest in 1:47.38.
Fraser-Holmes, swimming in lane one in the second semi, took the race out hard, leading more highly regarded rivals Sun Yang (China), Yannick Agnel (France) and Park Taehwan (Republic of Korea). That trio passed the 20-year-old Australian in the last 100m but he hung on for the last spot in the final.
Understandably Fraser-Holmes was chuffed with the time and place.
“I’m absolutely over the moon,” he said. “First Olympics and two finals. I had a lot of energy at the start.
“I just wanted to start fast and try to hold on. I think I’ve got another half second up my sleeve.”
If that were the case he could come into medal calculations.
Sun and American Ryan Lochte, who was second in the first semi-final, will aim for their second individual gold of these Olympics in the final.
Women’s 100m breaststroke semi-finals
Leisel Jones will have the chance to win a second successive women’s 100m breaststroke Olympic crown after qualifying for tomorrow's final in fifth place.
Jones, who trains under Michael Bohl in Brisbane, was third in her semi-final in a time of 1:06.81, 0.17 faster than her heat swim this morning. Jones’ Australian teammate Leiston Pickett clocked 1:07.74 to finish in 13th place in her first ever Olympic semi-final.
The surprise winner of their semi and top qualifier for the final is 15 year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte who clocked a slick 1:05.21. American world champion and pre-Olympic favourite Rebecca Soni won the first semi in 1:05.98.
Ironically Jones was just 15 when she won silver on debut at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. She has since gone on to win another seven Olympic medals and is the only Australian swimmer in history to compete at four Olympics.
After the race Jones was like a kid who had just won her first ribbon at the school carnival and knows of all those in tomorrow’s final she has the most experience at this level.
“I was just so excited. I saw the scoreboard and I was so proud of myself for getting this far,” Jones said.
“I knew I had to leap forward tonight just to make the final. You never know what you can pull out when the nerves hit in a final and you never know who will crack under the pressure of a final.
“It will be one of the last times I get to experience this at an Olympics so I am going to enjoy it.”
Men’s 100m breaststroke final
It took an incredible world record by South African Cameron van der Burgh to beat him but Australia’s Christian Sprenger produced the swim of his career to claim the silver medal in the men’s 100m breaststroke.
Sprenger clocked a personal best time of 58.93 to finish a body length behind van der Burgh’s 58.48. American veteran Brendan Hansen was third in 59.43.
Australian dual Olympian Brenton Rickard was sixth in 59.87 and will take some confidence into his favoured 200m event. It was his world record set at the 2009 FINA World Championships in Rome that van der Burgh shattered.
An elated Sprenger, who was 14th in Beijing, believed he had swum as close to a perfect race as he could.
“This means the world to me,” the 26 year-old industrial design graduate said.
“Sometimes you have one of those swims when everything falls together and tonight was that night. I swam this race like there was never going to be another race.
“That was a really well executed race for me. The first 50m I set it up well and with 25m to go I felt fine, the pain hadn’t set in so I picked up my stroke rate and accelerated to the wall.”
Women’s 400m freestyle final
There were no Australians in the women’s 400m freestyle final that was won by France’s Camille Muffat in an Olympic record of 4:01.45 in a thrilling match race with American Allison Schmitt (4:01.77).
Great Britain’s defending champion Rebecca Adlington grabbed bronze in 4:03.01, much to the delight of the patriotic home crowd. Adlighton clocked 4:03.22 in Beijing four years ago.
Men’s 100m backstroke semi-finals
Australian Hayden Stoeckel has reached his second consecutive Olympic 100m backstroke final after qualifying in eighth place for tomorrow night’s decider.
Stoeckel, who won bronze in the event in Beijing, hit the wall in 53.74. Fellow Australian Daniel Arnamnart missed the final, clocking 54.48 for 16th.
American Matt Grevers (52.66) won the silver in Beijing and will be the favourite in the final after looking very comfortable swimming the fastest semi-final time. France’s world champion Camille Lacourt was next on 53.03.
“I believe I got as lot more in the tank for tomorrow and basically it should be a 52-second fight,” he said.
“I have not raced my best this year but I am still trying to get it all together ready for the final. I am going to relax, get a good night sleep and really push it tomorrow.”
Women’s 100m backstroke semi-finals
In 2008 a 16-year-old Emily Seebohm left Beijing with a relay gold medal but shattered by her individual result in the 100m backstroke where she missed the final and had to settle for ninth.
Now four years on – two of them plagued by illness - Seebohm has the chance for the ultimate redemption – Olympic gold – after qualifying fastest for the final of her pet event in a time of 58.39.
It was the second brilliant swim of the day for Seebohm after she clocked a sizzling Olympic record of 58.23 in this morning’s heats to record the third fastest swim of all time and quickest outside of the advantageous ‘shiny suit’ era of 2008 and 2009.
No other swimmer has swum under 59 seconds at this meet.
Tomorrow night Seebohm will have to re-produce that sort of form to beat teenage American sensation Missy Franklin (second quickest, 59.12) and Aussie teammate Belinda Hocking (seventh, 59.79) but with her level of consistency she is now quietly confident.
“I’m really excited. In Beijing I qualified ninth in the semi-finals so I’m actually happy just to be in the final,” the 20-year-old said.
“With the time I went this morning I felt I could do that again, it wasn’t a fluke. I had a nice light swim this morning and hopefully I will be at the top of my game tomorrow night.
“It’s feeling good and it hasn’t felt this good since 2010 and before the swine flu and the difficulties I had to deal with last year. It’s nice to be able to push myself to the level I know I can be at and the results are coming.”
Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay
Australia’s team of James Magnussen, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan and James Roberts have finished a surprise fourth behind France, the USA and Russia in the heavily billed men’s 4 x 100m freestyle relay final.
Magnussen led the team off with a split of 48.03 to hand over to Targett in second place. Targett then clocked 47.83 to drop to third, a place that Sullivan maintained with his impressive 47.68. Roberts was passed on the first lap of his leg by the Russian swimmer and posted a 48.09.
In a flash the French team of Amaury Leveaux, Fabien Gilot, Clement Lefert and Yannick Angel, split a scorching 46.74 to overhaul American golden boy Ryan Lochte in the last 15 metres, erasing the agonising memory of their last stroke loss to the memories in Beijing.
The Australians entered the race as the reigning world champions and were suitably upset by the result.
“Words can’t describe that or how I feel - I’m really disappointed,” Magnussen said.
“I knew at the turn I was stinging and it was going to be a long last 50m. I swam a 47.30 this morning and it was the easiest swim I have done in months. I just couldn’t back it up tonight.”
Next up Magnussen and Roberts will back up in the individual 100m freestyle heats on Tuesday, while Sullivan will return to the pool on Thursday for the 50m freestyle alongside Magnussen.
Dave Lyall in London
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