Chaker Belhadj, FINA Press Commission Member
October 6, 2012 DOHA - The second stage of the FINA/ARENA Swimming World Cup, which is hosted for the first time by Doha, in Qatar, offers a nice array of athletes with the presence of five Olympic champions or medallists in individual events: South Africans Chad Le Clos and Cameron van der Burgh, Britta Steffen from Germany, American Anthony Ervin and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh. World record holders (short course) Roland Schoeman (RSA), Evgeny Korotyshkin (RUS) and Therese Alshammar (SWE) are also part of the stellar line-up in Doha. Rising stars include 2010 Youth Olympic Games medallists Australian Kenneth To and Ukrainians Daryna Zevina and Andrii Govorov.
Despite the average number of 115 swimmers from 30 nations entered in the competition, the results were of quality on day 1 with nine best world performances in total. Of the 30 nations competing, 16 climbed the podium and seven of them the highest march of the podium. Australia ranks first with five gold medals and one silver, ahead of Japan (4 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze), Hungary and Sweden (3 gold, 3 silver and 3 bronze each), South Africa (2 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze), Germany (1 gold and 2 silver) and Ukraine (1 gold and 1 bronze).
Unstoppable Hosszu continues winning streak
Buoyed by her Dubai success, Katinka Hosszu (HUN) again imposed her lead in three events, also improving her performances set in the first leg: 800 free in 8:29.31, 200 free in 1:54.79 and 200 IM in 2:09.86. In these last two races, Hosszu bested the season's world marks before seeking a fourth podium in the 200 back (2:07.54). The latter event was won by Ukrainian Daryna Zevina, 18 years old, in 2:02.99.
This new best world mark earned her 929 points, the highest points value in the female category. Zevina captured a second medal in the 200 free, bronze after a 1:56.31 effort. Zevina made two podium appearances at the FINA World Championships in Shanghai in July 2011 before collecting three victories at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Lima a month later in backstroke events.
Still in the women's field, World Cup 2011 winner Therese Alshammar (SWE) repeated her double success from Dubai - 50 free and 100 fly in 24.44 and 57.22 (best world mark), respectively - by edging Britta Steffen (GER, 24.46) and Inge Dekker (NED, 58.04) in the respective races. The Dutch sprint specialist won a second medal in the 50 free (bronze in 24.78). Besides Alshammar, Sweden got itself talked about through Jennie Johansson, winner of the 100 breast in 1:06.11 (best world mark), and Joline Hoestman, third in 1:07.25. The silver went to Japanese Fumiko Kawanabe (1:06.96). The only Japanese victory of the day was reserved for Noriko Inada in the 50 back (27.29) ahead of Australia's Rachel Goh (27.67) and Swedish Michelle Coleman (28.05), who did better in the 200 free (second in 1:56.25).
After the race, Therese Alshammar said: “My year was very good until two weeks before the Olympics, I ruptured a disc in my neck so I could not race all the events I wanted. I don’t know what will happen, I’m enjoying myself now. I trained hard this year and it has been disappointing. I’m not 100% fit. I have no big plans for this year. I’m just trying to enjoy swimming again.”
Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) picked up silver in the 200 IM (2:10.58) ahead of South African Katheryn Meaklim (2:12.73) and the bronze in the 800 free (8:35.48) behind Slovenia's Tanja Smid (8:30.60). Hong Kong's Yu Szeg performed well by repeating her third place finish in the 100 fly (59.23).
Olympic champion beaten in men's 200 fly
The men's events were marked by young sensation from Japan, Daiya Seto, overcoming Olympic champion Chad Le Clos (RSA) in the 200 fly, with a blistering time of 1:51.30 (best world mark). The thrilling race ended in the slimmest of margins, one hundredth of a second between the 1-2 finishers. The minor medal went to U.S. Thomas Shields. Seto also dominated the 400 IM (4:02.51), touching the wall ahead of Laszlo Cseh (HUN, 4:03.71) and Chaosheng Huang (CHN, 4:07.58). In the latter event, the Japanese missed the Asian record by seven hundredths of a second. His victory in the 200 breast was also brilliant: 2:04.87, best global mark, ahead of Germany's Marco Koch (2:05.72) and U.S. Sean Mahoney (2:06.23).
Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh (RSA) took out the 50 breast in 25.95 (best world mark), edging compatriot Roland Schoeman (26.38) and Glenn Snyders from New Zealand (26.68). In the 50 fly, the podium was all African with Schoeman taking first in 22.34, Jason Dunford from Kenya second (22.87) and Chad Le Clos third (22.90).
The Australian delegation was in shape as well with five victories: a tie for first in the 100 free (47.10) shared between Tommaso D'Orsogna and Kenneth To. U.S. Anthony Ervin placed third (47.17). To, 2010 Youth Olympics silver medallist in the 200 IM, won the 100 IM in 51.58, which earned him 953 points (the best performance among men), ahead of George Bovell (TRI, 51.87) and Darian Townsend (52.76).
Speaking after the event, Kenneth To said: “I am pretty happy with today, especially after coming off a tough event in Dubai. It’s been lots of travelling but it’s been two great events and it gives me good momentum for the European circuit. I am swimming well and I know it, so I am pleased. George (Bovell) is swimming well and he almost beat me tonight, so I gotta watch out!”
Robert Hurley (AUS) had a strong come back in the World Cup circuit with a double victory un the 400 IM (3:42.89) and 100 back more especially (50.18), in which he equalised the Oceanian record after beating 2010 World champion Stanislav Donets (RUS, 50.47) and Kosuke Hagino (JPN, 50.92).