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Brave backstrokers can't hang on for medals

9 August 2016

SWIMMING: Australia’s world champion backstrokers, Mitch Larkin and Emily Seebohm will now turn their attention to their respective 200m backstroke events after missing the medals in the highly competitive 100m backstroke field on night three of finals at the Rio Aquatic Centre.

The depth of the men’s and women’s 100m backstroke was such, that any one of the finalists could have produced a podium worthy swim.

Less than a second separated the top six swimmers in the men’s event with Larkin touching fourth for a time of 52.43, missing the medals by an agonising 0.03 of a second.

“I left everything out there in the pool tonight, so I’m pretty happy with that but unfortunately I finished fourth, which sucks but like I said, I had a crack,” Larkin said.

“It’s the Olympics, it doesn’t matter about times, it’s just about getting your hand first, second, third on the wall and unfortunately I was fourth.” 

The gold medal went to Ryan Murphy (51.97) from the USA in an Olympic record with China’s Xu Jiayu, securing the silver and fellow American, David Plummer (52.40) the bronze.

With the final of the men’s 200m backstroke coming up on day six (11:26am AEST, August 12) Larkin said he would now switch focus and was looking forward to getting back in and having another crack.

“My 200 pace is feeling a lot more comfortable than the 100 this week, so I’ve really been trying to push the top end a bit more, trying to get ready for the 100 but now this is over I can sort of put it aside and I guess focus more on the 200,” Larkin said.

WOMEN’S 200M FREESTYLE 

London 2012 bronze medallist Bronte Barratt qualified for a second consecutive women’s 200m freestyle Olympic final and will join Emma McKeon in a two-pronged Australian tilt in the day four final. 

McKeon finished second and Barratt fourth in first semi-final, with McKeon qualifying sixth fastest for the final in a time of 1min 56.29 seconds, with Barratt securing the final lane in a time of 1:56:63. 

But the Aussie women face a huge task if they are to catch Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom and American Katie Ledecky, who posted times almost two seconds faster in the second semi-final, which the Swede won in a time of 1:54.65, with Ledecky second in 1:54.81. 

MEN’S 200M BUTTERFLY 

Australian Grant Irvine produced a brave swim but missed a spot in the final by just 0.04 of a second. 

Turning sixth with 50m to go in his semi-final, the Aussie produced a great finishing burst to come home in fifth position in a time of 1:56.07 to just miss a berth in the final. 

Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi was the fastest qualifier in a time of 1:53.96, ahead of Olympic great Michael Phelps in 1:54.12. 

WOMEN’S 200M INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY 

Competing in her last Olympics, Alicia Coutts has a shot at another Olympic medal after qualifying sixth for the final. 

The London 2012 silver medallist in the 200IM finished third in her semi-final but the Australian and the rest of the field face a daunting task trying to upstage world champion Katinka Hosszu, who last night claimed gold in the women’s 100m backstroke. 

The Hungarian star – nicknamed the ‘Iron Lady’ –  was the fastest qualifier for the final and is the hot favourite to claim the 200m-400m individual medley double in Rio, having already won gold in the 400m IM in world record time. 

Kathleen Rayment

olympics.com.au

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