Ukrainian swimmer Mykhailo Romanchuk triumphs in 'great race'
Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk won gold in the men’s 400m freestyle, the first swimming final at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games, with a cleverly-paced swim that saw him snatch first place in the final leg.
The 18-year-old was swimming in fifth position with 50m to go when he overhauled Marcelo Alberto Acosta (ESA), Akram Ahmed (EGY), Henrik Christiansen (NOR) and Wojciech Jacek Wojdak (POL) to win the gold medal in 3 minutes, 49.76 seconds. Acosta won silver and Christiansen took bronze.
An exhausted Romanchuk could barely speak after his victory. “It was a great race for me and I have a lot of emotions right now,” he said, adding that he had had high expectations before arriving in Nanjing.
“I thought I must win the gold medal in either this event or the 800m. I think the people back home will be ecstatic. I also think that all sportsmen and women, all good swimmers, dream of winning an Olympic Games gold medal and my next step is to win one at the Rio Olympic Games in 2016," he added.
Fastest qualifier Ahmed took the positives from his fourth placing. “I’m actually happy about that because I still have the 800m freestyle to go and I’ll focus on being on the podium in that event,” he said.
Vien Nguyen Thi Anh (VIE) won a tight women’s 200m individual medley final. The 17-year-old was only the fifth-fastest qualifier but led throughout the race, while fastest qualifier Meghan Small (USA), Siobhan Bernadette Haughey (HKG), Kathrin Demler (GER) and Africa Zamorano Sanz (ESP) jostled for podium places behind her. Haughey won silver and Small secured bronze.
“I knew I’d have to swim very fast to win the gold medal tonight, so I just swam, swam, swam and swam,” Nguyen Thi Anh said.
Meanwhile, Small said her bronze medal swim will stand her in good stead for the rest of the week. “That was actually a better swim than the heat this morning, so it puts me in a good position to rise up in the rankings of my other swims. I’m not placed as high in those, so I’m definitely going to try and get my way into some finals,” she said.
In the evening’s final medal event, China won its second gold of the Games after a rousing comeback in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay. As he did in the heat, China’s third swimmer, Yu Hexin, propelled his team from fourth to first place and it never relinquished its lead, winning in 3:27.02 and finishing 4.53 seconds ahead of silver medallist Brazil. Australia won bronze, a further 4.74 seconds behind.