Japan and Australia share the swimming gold18 January 2013
SWIMMING: It was another thrilling night at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, with Friday’s finals producing five new Australian Youth Olympic Festival records, and fourteen medals for Australia.
Starting the night the Australia Gold’s Jemma Schlicht took home gold in the women’s 100 meters freestyle with an AYOF record breaking time of 55.94 seconds.
Melbourne born Schlict has now solidified herself as a contender for both the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“That’s (Rio) the goal,” Schlict said after her impressive win. “I’ll just keep training hard and see what happens.”
Schlicht was joined on the podium by fellow Australian’s Alexandra Purcell with a time of 56.02s and Celeste Astorino who won bronze in a time of 56.52s. It was an incredibly close finish with just a touch separating the winners and getting the night off to an exciting start.
Men’s 100 metre Freestyle
Alexander Graham kept up his record breaking streak managing to beat his own AYOF record that he set in the morning heats. It was always going to be a close clash with fellow Australian Regan Leong, who won the 200m freestyle on Thursday night.
Alexander prevailed in the 2-lap sprint taking gold with a time of 50.07 seconds to improve his record by 0.10s. Rounding out the Australian filled podium was distance swimmer Mack Horton.
Men’s 100m breaststroke
One of the most intriguing races of the night was the men’s 100m breaststroke. In the heats on Friday morning, Kazusa Araya of Japan broke the existing record in the first heat, before losing the record to teammate Kohei Goto in the next heat.
“I noticed that I would break his record,” Goto said. “But I did this for my own time and my own swim.”
Goto again produced the goods in the final with the AYOF broken for the third time in a day. Araya challenged hard and was 0.3s down at the turn and 0.4 of a second at the wall.
The champion is sure the AYOF “has been a great experience and makes me confident” although he acknowledges “it’s a long road to the Olympics”.
Women’s 100 metre Breaststroke
Coming off setting an AYOF record in her heat Jenna Strauch won gold in the final of the women’s 100 metre breaststroke.
In a battle for the finish Strauch and fellow Australian Jessica Hansen had barely a touch separating them at the finish. Strauch took gold with a time of 1:09.01 seconds after being in third place at the 50 metre mark before powering home. Silver was won by Hansen with a time of 1:09.07 and Hungary’s Dalma Sebestyen took bronze in a time of 1:10.21s.
Mens 400m Individual Medley
Japan’s Ryo Fujimoto was the dominant swimmer on a big night of racing. The 100m backstroke champion from yesterday surged to the end wall in the medley. On the backstroke leg he established a huge lead and was five seconds ahead. There was no fading in the breaststroke or freestyle only just missing the record from 2001 with his time of 4:21.61. Bradlee Ashby of New Zealand glided almost six seconds back at 4:27.31 for silver and Canadian Evan White (4:27.63).
Women’s 400m Individual Medley
Japan’s Yui Ohashi was pleasantly surprised when she set a new AYOF record surpassing fellow her countrywomen Miyu Otsuka’s record from the 2009 AYOF.
“I didn’t realise I had broken the AYOF record,” Ohashi said. “I just tried to break my own personal best which I did by three seconds which has given me confidence.”
Finishing with a time of 4:43.54 Ohashi held the lead from the backstroke leg bringing it home to win gold.
Canada’s Sydney Pickrem in her second final of the night took silver with a time of 4:44.05 and Japan’s Wakaba Tsuyuuchi picked up bronze in 4:44.09.
Ohashi is making plans to train hard in the lead up to Rio 2016.
“It is a long journey to the Rio Olympics but I realise that what I have to do is improve my power and technique particularly for breaststroke and freestyle, so I’m ready to work hard,” Ohashi said.
Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay
Australia Gold smashed the existing AYOF record, with an incredible time of 7:27.69. Luke Percy held his big lead for the final leg with great form. Australia Green's Mark Hoxton had a strong last leg to swim into silver with Japan a very strong third.
Women’s 4x 200metre Freestyle Relay
Japan came out on top of both Australia Green and Australia Gold in the women’s 4x200 metre Freestyle Relay. Maintaining their lead throughout the race it was a battle between the two Australian teams for silver and bronze.
Finishing in a time of 3:42.81 Japan came out over silver winners Australia Gold with a time of 3:48.00 and Australia Green who clocked in at 3:49.00. Japan finished lengths in front of the pack proving to be the team to beat collectively.
Friday was another record breaking day, so hang out for Saturday, which is sure to be jam-packed with action. Heats will run from 9am on Saturday morning, with finals taking place from 6pm.
Hannah Moore and Hayley Williams
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