Chinese swimmers light up the Natatorium with double gold
An excitable crowd cheered China to two golds and a bronze at the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre Natatorium on Tuesday night, and were also treated to a thrilling dead heat in the women’s 200m backstroke.
China dominated the women’s 100m freestyle final. Shen Duo (CHN) won gold in 53.84 seconds and Qiu Yuhan (CHN) picked up bronze, with Hong Kong China’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey (HKG) taking the second spot on the podium.
Haughey, the daughter of a Hong Kong Chinese mother and an Irish father, was delighted to pick up her second silver of the Games, adding to her medal from the women’s 200m individual medley. “I just hoped I could go out really fast in the first 50 and hang on to the end,” she said. “The last 50m was really tough, but I managed to stay in there and touch the wall.”
The short-sighted Haughey donned glasses to accept her medal, saying: “It doesn’t really affect me in competitions, but in training when the coach writes the sets on the board, I can’t really see it, so I just ask my teammates.”
China’s other gold medal came in a tight men’s 100m butterfly final. Li Zhuhao (CHN) finished 0.03 of a second ahead of Aleksandr Sadovnikov (RUS). Australia’s Nicholas Brown secured bronze. “I feel very pleased to beat so many overseas swimmers in front of this crowd,” Li said.
Sadovnikov said vision and stroke-timing issues conspired to deny him first place. “I accelerated in the middle part but I couldn’t see what was happening right at the end and I mistimed my touch. My hands were up in the air when they should have been on the wall,” he said.
For the second day in a row Italy won two gold medals in the pool, including one in a dead heat. Simona Quadarella (ITA) took first place in the women’s 800m freestyle, before Ambra Esposito (ITA) tied for gold with Hannah Moore (USA) in a thrilling women’s 200m backstroke.
Quadarella, who swam a personal best of 8:35.39, was stunned after watching her supposedly faster rivals fail to match her. “I am very happy. I didn’t know I had won and when I realised, I screamed,” she said.
USA's Hannah Moore is relieved to see her name at the top of the leaderboard
Esposito, who staged a final-leg comeback in the women’s 200m backstroke to finish joint first, said she had no idea she was behind Moore coming out of the final turn. “I just knew I had to go fast coming home and be very strong,” she said, pumping her left arm muscle in emphasis. “It feels a bit strange to share the medal, but it feels really good and it’s a gold medal after all.”
A relieved Moore said she thought she had let her chance slip. “I think I might have taken that a little too hard in the beginning because I could really feel my legs burning on the last 50m,” she said. “When I touched I was thinking, ‘Oh no man, I think I’ve just lost’. This is the coolest thing I have ever done. All my teammates were taking pictures…and I love social media so I’m sure I will be all over that tonight.”
Great Britain won its first swimming gold at the Games in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay. After qualifying fourth fastest for the final, the British team led throughout to secure victory. Italy comfortably claimed silver, while Germany came from seventh place to overhaul fastest-qualifiers Russia and snatch bronze. “Everyone did brilliantly, I’m well happy with that,” said Great Britain’s third swimmer, Martyn Walton. “That was my last race and I am overwhelmed by how well we did. British swimming always steps up in relays at the moment. Hopefully we are the future.”