Schooling breaks records en route to reach 100m fly final
Schooling breaks 100m fly record twice en route to qualifying for today's final
Singapore's swim star Joseph Schooling stormed into today's final of the men's 100m butterfly at the World Swimming Championships, on the back of two national record-breaking efforts yesterday.
The 100m fly is his pet event, deemed his best chance at making a splash on the world stage, and Schooling delivered.
He first clocked 51.65 seconds in the morning's heats at the Kazan Arena in Russia, bettering his own national record of 51.69 that earned him a silver medal at last year's Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
In last night's semi-finals, the 20-year-old went even faster with a 51.40 effort, making him the seventh fastest qualifier, behind joint top qualifiers - Tom Shields of the United States and Hungarian Laszlo Cseh.
"Not qualifying for the 200m butterfly final was disappointing, but I had to put that aside to concentrate on the 100m," said Schooling.
"In fact, it gave me the extra motivation to push myself. I swam well in the heats and semi-finals and started strong right from the beginning.
"I'm stoked for the final tomorrow and I am looking forward to put on a strong performance."
For a while in last night's semi-final, it appeared that the University of Texas undergraduate was on the verge of something very special.
He was the first to touch the wall at the 50m mark, the clock stopping at 23.83, 0.30 seconds ahead of the bald Hungarian Cseh, but he did not have enough power to see it through in the second leg.
Cseh won that semi-final in 51.03, with Schooling in fourth spot, behind China's Li Zhuhao (51.33) and third-placed Frenchman Mehdy Metalla (51.39).
Schooling can draw confidence from the day's performances that also saw him beat the reigning 100m butterfly Olympic champion, Chad le Clos, in the afternoon's heats - his 51.65 effort a shade faster than le Clos' 51.83.
Earlier in the week, Schooling became the first Singaporean man to qualify for a final at the biennial world championships, since Ang Peng Siong in 1986.
While Ang finished fourth in the 50m freestyle then, Schooling managed only seventh place in the 50m fly final, although that was yet another record-breaking feat by the trailblazing Singaporean.
Schooling lowered his own Asian record with that 23.25 swim.
Today, he will attempt to achieve what no Singaporean has done before - make the podium at a world championships.
"I'm delighted to see Joseph swim well today," said national coach Sergio Lopez.
"He was disappointed with his 200m fly performance but, today, we saw 'the fighter' in him which I described a few days ago.
"To recover from a setback and push on to clock a personal best in the 100m fly shows how determined he is to do well.
"I am looking forward to the final tomorrow and I am sure everyone back in Singapore will be rooting for him."
"Today, we saw ‘the fighter’ in him which I described a few days ago."
— National coach Sergio Lopez on Schooling
Japanese teenager Kanako Watanabe won the women's 200m breaststroke gold at the World Swimming Championships yesterday to claim her second medal in Kazan.
Watanabe, 18, clocked two minutes and 21.15 seconds, with Micah Lawrence of the United States taking silver at 1.29 back while Spain's Jessica Vall earned bronze at 1.61.
It was the second gold for Japanese women in the Kazan pool in as many days, after Natsumi Hoshi claimed a surprise victory in the 200m butterfly on Thursday.
It was Watanabe's second medal in Kazan after winning silver in the 200m individual medley on Monday behind Hungary's "Iron Lady" Katinka Hosszu.
In the women's 100m freestyle final, Australia's Bronte Campbell kept it in the family by winning the gold medal to succeed her sister Cate Campbell as champion.
Bronte clocked 52.52sec to win the title with Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom taking silver 0.18sec back while Cate had to settle for bronze at 0.30 in the blue-ribband sprint.
"I can't believe that, I think it is still sinking in," said the 21-year-old Bronte, the younger of the Campbell sisters. "I couldn't believe it when I turned round and saw the one next to my name, then I saw the time as well. I couldn't be happier with that.
"It's everyone's dream. That is why you train. You want to be the best you can be and today I happened to the best in the world.
"That sounds really strange coming out of my mouth, truly surreal."
"I've had back-to-back training and that's an advantage I had over Cate," added Bronte, referring to her sister's shoulder surgery last year.
This is the second time the Campbell sisters have been on the podium together in Kazan.
Bronte collected her second gold in Kazan after the sisters both swam in Australia's victorious 4x100m freestyle relay team last Sunday.
"It's a fantastic night for the Campbell family, it's a fantastic night for Australia," said Cate, 23, who had won the 100m world title in Barcelona two years ago.
"I still got to stand up on the podium and sing the national anthem. I couldn't be prouder of my little sister.
"I knew I hadn't won and, when I saw a one next to a Campbell, I was like, 'Oh my goodness, there's only one other Campbell in the world in this pool at this moment and it's not me, so it has to be Bronte'.
"I almost feel a little bit sorry for Sarah - we were a bit rude, we kind of just rushed together and I am so thrilled for Bronte. It was absolutely her moment."
Mitchell Larkin also struck gold for Australia when he won the men's 200m backstroke gold to complete the double.
Larkin, who had also won the 100m title on Tuesday, clocked 1min 53.58sec after a strong surge over the final 50m while Poland's Radoslow Kawecki took silver, 0.97sec back, as Russia's Evgeny Rylov earned bronze at 1.02.
China's Li Guangyuan, 18, swam a new world junior record of 1:56.79 in coming last.
Meanwhile Britain won the men's 4x200m freestyle relay gold yesterday, thanks to a superb anchor leg from James Guy.
The 19-year-old, who won the 200m freestyle title on Tuesday, took the British quartet from third to first in the final leg to clock seven minutes, 4.33 seconds as the US took silver at 0.42sec while Australia earned bronze at 1.01. - AFP.