Sprenger strikes gold and Coutts two more silver30 July 2013
SWIMMING:Christian Sprenger has become Australia’s first gold medallist at the 2013 FINA World Swimming Championships in Spain, while Alicia Coutts has won two silver medals on night two of competition at Palau Sant Jordi.
A silver medallist at last year’s Olympic Games, 27-year-old Sprenger put in a determined and ruthless display in the men’s 100m breaststroke to win in a time of 58.79, ahead of Olympic champion Cameron Van Der Burgh from South Africa.
A member of the Australian team since 2006, the win is his first individual gold medal at a major meet and comes almost a year to the day that he popped up for silver in London behind Van Der Burgh who was second tonight in 58.97.
Coached by Simon Cusack at Brisbane’s Valley Pool, the Queenslander said the swim was a culmination of 12 months of hard work in and out of the pool, and a real drive off the back of success at the Olympics.
“I knew it was going to be a tough race and I remember getting to that first wall and thinking, man I’m travelling really fast and it’s not even hurting at all, so I knew I was on track,” said Sprenger.
“I could see Cameron in the corner of my eye and I knew he had gone out fast, but I have a stronger back end so it was my turn to come back. The first thing I saw was Cameron’s block and it had the two lights showing and I thought, oh I think I’ve got him! And then I turned around and saw 58.7 and it blew my mind.”
The medals continued to come for Australia with Alicia Coutts picking up two from two events to add to her ever increasing medal haul over the last four years.
The 25-year-old coached by John Fowlie at the AIS has now won an incredible 19 medals at major international swim meets over the last four years and had to back up again to swim both the women’s 100m butterfly and 200m IM.
A bronze medallist in the 100m fly in London, Coutts edged one step further up the podium taking silver in a time 56.97 behind Sarah Sjostrom from Sweden who won in 56.53.
Returning to the pool some 90 minutes later, Coutts was back in action in the 200m IM for another silver, finishing in 2:09.39 and holding off a late challenge from Spain’s Mirera Belmonte who finished third with Katinka Hosszu taking gold.
“I gave it everything I had in that last lap and wasn’t going to get touched out again,” said Coutts.
“I am extremely proud of what I’ve done over the last couple of days, to have seven races in two days and to come away with three silver medals is very overwhelming.”
Coutts now has two days off before resuming her program with relays and the 50m butterfly.
In semi-final action Ashley Delaney will swim in the final of the men’s 100m backstroke after another strong swim this evening saw him finish in 53.74. Setting a textile PB in the morning, the Victorian slipped off the wall at the start of the semi-final but still qualified seventh for the final early Wednesday morning AEST.
Fellow backstroke swimmers Emily Seebohm and Belinda Hocking will also compete in the final Wednesday morning with Olympic silver medallist Seebohm the second fastest qualifier in 59.38 behind the USA’s Missy Franklin (59.31) while Hocking qualified eighth in 1:00.24 which is a good sign for her 200m backstroke later in the week.
The future of Australian freestyle swimming was on show in the semi-finals of the men’s 200m free with Olympic finalist in this event Thomas Fraser-Holmes and teammate Cameron McEvoy both progressing through to the final in seventh and eighth spot.
Fraser-Holmes had a nervous wait after finishing fourth in the first semi-final and managed to sneak in to the top eight with a time of 1:47.21 while McEvoy’s time of 1:47.31 saw him finish equal eighth with Sebastian Verschuren from the Netherlands, with Verschuren making the decision to withdraw, giving McEvoy the last spot in the final.
The women’s 100m breaststroke semi-finals saw Sally Foster and Samantha Marshall finish 13th and 15th respectively in 1:08.04 and 1:08.31.