Sports

Taylor targets Canada's first Olympic swimming medal in 20 years

After winning gold in the 100m and 
4x100m free, Ruck aims to be Canada's 
first Olympic medallist in 20 years

It has been almost two decades since a female Canadian swimmer last stood on the Olympic podium.

But, with two superb performances at the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships, 15-year-old Taylor Ruck established herself as a possible contender to emulate Marianne Limpert, who won bronze in the 200m individual medley at Atlanta 1996.

"I'm definitely shooting for Rio, and to medal at either the 2016 or 2020 Olympics would be amazing," said Taylor, whose winning time of 53.92sec in the 100m freestyle also ties her as the 17th fastest swimmer this season.

It represents a massive improvement from her personal best of 55.51 she set at the 2015 Canadian Trials before competing in Singapore.

Thus, Taylor went from being the 10th fastest Canadian this season in the event to third, behind only 21-year-old Chantal Van Landeghem and 23-year-old Sandrine Mainville.

BURST OUT

Taylor burst out of the blocks at the OCBC Aquatic Centre to reach the halfway mark in 25.90, under Shen Duo's world-junior split of 26.40, before cruising home in a new championship record just eight-hundredths of a second outside Shen's mark.

Unfazed, she bagged a new world junior record when she anchored the Canadian mixed 4x100m freestyle quartet - with Javier Acevedo, Markus Thormeyer and women's 100m silver medallist Penny Oleksiak - to another stunning gold in 3:27.71.

This was more than a second faster than the old record of 3:28.74 set by Australia in 2013, and Taylor contributed with an astonishing 53.69 to 
cap a stirring comeback for the Canadians, who were sixth after the first leg.

"I'm not disappointed not to get the world junior record in the 100m," said Taylor, who looks up to 20-year-old American backstroke specialist Missy Franklin, a four-time Olympic champion.

"I'm happy because I just wanted to swim better than my own times and I did it, and after that we won the mixed freestyle relay in record time, which was awesome."

On a warm and humid night, there were four new championship records from the five finals.

Australian Minna Atherton stayed on track to sweep gold in all three backstroke events when she won the 200m in a new championship record of 2:09.11 to add to the 100m gold she had already picked up in world junior record of 59.58.

Russian Daniil Pakhomov also set a new championship record when he won the men's 100m butterfly final in 52.28, while China's Yang Jintong produced a burst in the last 200m to take gold in the men's 800m freestyle in 7:55.19.

En Qi scores a first for Singapore

Hoong En Qi, 15, yesterday became the first Singaporean to reach a semi-final of the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships.

In the morning's heats of the women's 50m butterfly, she (above) clocked 27.59sec and qualified as the 16th-fastest swimmer.

She improved to joint-13th in the evening semi-finals in 27.32, just one-hundredth of a second off her personal best.

However, En Qi was 0.30sec behind eighth-placed Barbora Misendova from Slovakia and missed out on a place in tonight's final; Japan's Rikako Ikee qualified fastest in 26.30.

WORLD-CLASS

The Singapore Sports School student, who won a SEA Games gold medal in the women's 4x100m freestyle event, said: "Usually we compete at a regional level, so this is my first time swimming against a world-class field.

"I'm very happy to have this great opportunity and experience and I learnt to be more professional in my warm-ups, races and recovery in terms of food and timing.

"I believe this will enhance my character as an athlete and person."

- DAVID LEE

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