Rikako is first Asian to win a world juniors 50m gold
Pocket rocket becomes first Asian in nine years to win world junior gold in a 50m event
On an evening when three world junior records fell at the OCBC Aquatic Centre, a pint-sized Japanese swimmer stood tall.
Rikako Ikee, 15, became the first Asian - since Chinese swimmers Zhou Yanxin and Wang Qun in 2006 - to win a 50m race in any discipline at the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships, grabbing gold last night in the women's 50m butterfly in a new championship record time of 26.28sec.
Rikako pipped Canada's Penny Oleksiak and Russia's Mariia Kameneva - both towered over her on the podium during the medal presentation ceremony - to claim gold, only 0.02sec off the world junior mark of 26.26, owned by Russia's Rozaliya Nasretdinova.
Speaking through a translator later, Rikako said: "I don't think it was my best swim today, I have done better in training and I can do better in the future."
While she knows that her size would always leave her at a disadvantage, the fearless teenager, who is below 1.70m in height, said: "I swim the same way whether I am in Japan, or at the World Championships in Kazan earlier this year, or here.
"I will just keep on building myself up to be more powerful."
Australia's Minna Atherton had another good night in the pool.
The 15-year-old qualified for the women's 50m backstroke final in style, lowering the world junior record in both the heats and the semi-final.
Minna recorded 28.00sec in the heats to erase the old mark of 28.14, and then clocked 27.92 in the semi-finals.
She said: "I was just trying to go as fast as I could (in the semi-finals). I might possibly be able to (swim faster in the final). I think my dive could have been better. I was a bit too deep off the wall."
Turkey's Viktoria Zeynep Gunes went into the record books as well, setting a new world junior mark of 2min 11.03sec en route to winning the women's 200m individual medley.
This, after winning the women's 100m breaststroke earlier last night.
The United States ended the night with a bang when their men's 4x200m freestyle relay team of Grant Shoults, Maxime Rooney, Sean Grieshop and Grant House romped home in a new world junior mark of 7:13.76, bettering the old mark of 7:15.36.
AUSTRALIA ON TOP
With yesterday's results, Australia still lead the medal tally with seven golds and five silvers, with the US in second place with five golds, seven silvers and three bronzes.
But the manner of the Americans' victory in the relay has given House the confidence that the Aussies can be overtaken by the end of the meet tomorrow.
House said: "We are definitely confident. We have the ability and it is up to us to make it happen.
"We will be right there battling with them stroke for stroke."
Swimming cannot go the way of tennis, golf
Big swimming meets may not offer prize money as lucrative as the purses in tennis and golf tournaments, but Fina president Julio Maglione prefers it that way.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships at the OCBC Aquatic Centre last night, the 79-year-old Uruguayan said: "I think it is important to increase the prize money but I don't think we (our swimmers) should be 100 per cent professional, like in tennis, golf and football.
"If you look at the problems in Fifa, when there is more money, the ambitions of the people are very big.
"If aquatics is 100 per cent professional, then you have not just divers or swimmers, or water polo players, but also people who appear in the middle," he said, declining to elaborate more.
While track and field - the biggest sport at the Olympics alongside aquatics - has been dogged by the scourge of doping for decades, Maglione says he is satisfied with the way Fina has tackled the disease.
He said: "I think we have a big success in this area, even though we had some problems in the past."
He pointed out to the millions spent into the sport's in- and out-of-competition testing efforts, which is scrutinised by Fina technical experts from countries like the UK, Spain and Russia.
"I am very happy with the work they do, but it is impossible to change the situation in a month or a year.
"Don't compare us with athletics, but I am sure we will continue in this way (in our anti-doping efforts)," he added.
The world body for aquatics is also continuing its efforts to insert more 50m events in the Olympic programme.
MORE 50M EVENTS
Right now, only the 50m freestyle features at the Olympics and Maglione said: "The commission that studies this start in September. They study not the sport, but event by event.
"We are in discussion for all this, but it is the decision of the committee, and then it goes to the executive board of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and then it comes down to a vote in the general assembly."
Both Maglione and Fina executive director Cornel Marculescu said Singapore has the ability to host the senior World Championships, which was held last month in Russia.
Marculescu said: "Los Angeles is putting in a bid to host the 2024 Olympics with a temporary swimming venue in a football stadium, which was done in Kazan this year, and the expenses for building a temporary venue is definitely lower than constructing a new venue.
"In the stadium here, you too can have a pool and hold the world championships. So, yes, you can do it, of course you can."
Jing Wen makes Olympic 'B' qualifying mark
Singapore swimmer Quah Jing Wen made the Olympic "B" qualifying mark in the women's 200m individual medley at the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships yesterday.
The 14-year-old clocked 2min 18.72sec in the heats at the OCBC Aquatic Centre to better the "B" mark of 2:18.96, even though she failed to progress to the semi-finals.
National assistant coach Gary Tan said: "She has done really well this morning and shaved off about three seconds from her personal best. She has matured a lot when it comes to meets like these since the SEA Games and she is much better now in the fly and back legs in this event."
Jing Wen (left) is now the top-ranked Singaporean in the event this year, and one of only two swimmers to make the "B" mark, with Samantha Yeo (2:18.77). No Singaporean has made the "A" cut of 2:14.26.
The Republic's quartet of Darren Chua, Dylan Koo, Brilliant Chua and Francis Fong rewrote the national Under-17 men's 4x200m freestyle relay mark with their 7:48.24 effort in the heats yesterday morning and finished 14th overall.
The old mark of 8:04.02 was set in 2005.
TODAY'S EVENING SCHEDULE
Men: 100m free, 50m fly, 50m breast, 400m IM
Women: 1500m free, 100m fly, 50m free, 50m back, 4x100m free relay