Published: Aug 1, 2012 08:23:27 AM Updated: Nov 13, 2012 10:18:05 AM
Alicia Coutts has claimed her third medal of these Games by winning silver behind China’s Ye Shiwen in the women’s 200m individual medley and in the process become just the seventh Australian to win a full set of medals at a single Olympic Games.
Ye used her now famed lethal freestyle leg to move past a courageous Coutts on the last lap and win in an Olympic record of 2:07.57.
Coutts clocked a massive personal best of 2:08.15 to beat American Caitlin Leverenz (2:08.95) for second with Australia’s proud defending Olympic champion Stephanie Rice fourth in 2:09.55.
Coutts was glowing – and honest – after the race.
“I just went out there to swim my own race. I knew the Chinese girl (Shiwen Ye) would have an amazing last 50m so I just gritted my teeth and went for it down that last lap,” Coutts said.
“That’s another Olympic medal and I couldn’t be happier.”
Rice had put in a gutsy effort to lead the field through the first 50m and still be in second at the halfway mark. She slipped back in the breaststroke but it was not through lack of effort – the chronic shoulder problems that have restricted her training for more than two years finally getting the better of her.
“I tried to put it on the line and go out hard because I knew my strengths were in butterfly and backstroke,” Rice said.
“I think I did that pretty well but I just didn’t come home as well as I would have liked.
“I’m disappointed with the time and the result but I am really proud of the effort I put in leading into this meet and here as well.
“At the end of the day I did everything I could in this preparation. If I couldn’t swim I was cross training and I gave it everything. It was really tough but I’m proud of the way I worked.”
Women's 200m Freestyle
Bronte Barratt has buried the disappointment of missing the 400m freestyle final by powering home over the last lap to win a bronze medal for Australia in the women’s 200m freestyle.
The Australian clocked 1:55.81 behind American Allison Schmitt’s Olympic record of 1:53.61. Second was France’s Camille Muffat in 1:55.58. Earlier in the meet Muffat had got the better of Schmitt in an epic 400m battle.
Barratt swam a brilliantly judged race to turn fifth at the first turn before moving to fourth at the halfway mark. The Queenslander maintained that position until the last 20 metres when hauled in Missy Franklin then beat the USA teen to the wall by a mere 0.01 seconds – the barest of margins in the pool.
After years battling a shoulder injury and several changes of coach since Beijing where she was seventh in the same race, Barratt was understandably over the moon to get the medal.
“I don’t care what time I did as long as I got to stand on the Olympic medal dais by myself,” Barratt said.
“I’m just so happy. I put together my best race in the final. It was tough to be in lane four in between (Camille) Muffat and (Allison) Schmitt and still manage to swim my own race.
“Everyone has their ups and downs in swimming but I’m lucky that my up was tonight in the 200m freestyle final at the Olympics.
“Winning a gold medal with the girls in the relay in Beijing was the highlight of my career but an individual medal is just as special in a different way.”
Fellow Aussie Kylie Palmer was eighth in 1:57.68 and still has the 800m later in the week.
The Australian pair will be back in the pool tomorrow night as they attempt to help Australia – and themselves – to a second consecutive women’s 4x200m freestyle relay gold.
Men’s 4x200m freestyle relay
The rising Australian team of Thomas Fraser-Holmes (personal best 1:46.13), Kenrick Monk (1:46.67), Ned McKendry (1:47.60) and Ryan Napoleon (1:46.60) has finished a brave fifth in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay.
The USA dominated the field from Ryan Lochte’s opening leg and when Michael Phelps hit the wall at the end the all-time great had won his 19th Olympic medal and first gold of these Olympics.
The Americans final time of 6:59.70 was more than three seconds ahead of runners-up France (7:02.77), China (7:06.30), Germany (7:06.59) and the Australians on 7:07.00.
The team was aided this morning in the heats by David McKeon and Cameron McEvoy who joined with McKendry and Napoleon to put Australia into the final as the fourth fastest qualifiers. Apart from Monk, who is 24, the other five have an average age of just 20.
Men's 100m Freestyle semi-finals
James Magnussen arrived in London with hopes of a winning the blue-ribband men’s 100 metres freestyle and that dream is still alive after the man dubbed ‘the Missile’ qualified fastest for tomorrow night’s glamour final.
Magnussen, who won the world title in Shanghai last year, utilised his trademark withering last lap to produce by far his best performance of the week and take out his semi-final in 47.63.
James Roberts, the 21 year-old university student who trains under John Fowlie at the AIS in Canberra, wasn’t so lucky, clocking 48.57 and finishing tied for 12th.
Second fastest on the night was American Nathan Adrian in 47.97, with Cuban surprise pack Hanser Garcia, the last qualifier into the semis, third best in 48.04. Frenchman Yannick Agnel, who won gold in the 200m freestyle and 4x100m freestyle relay but wasn’t quite in the form of previous night’s and was seventh in 48.23.
A pleased Magnussen looked the happiest he had all week.
“It’s a relief to remember what it feels like to go fast,”Magnussen said.
Asked whether he had removed the rather large monkey on his back, Magnussen was most assured.
“Not yet. The monkey will be there until I’ve got a gold medal,” he said.
“It feels good to swim fast again tonight. It was a good positive swim and I feel like I’ve got more up my sleeve. I’ve got a fight on my hands but I’m looking forward to it.”
Women’s 200m butterfly semi-finals
Australian Jessicah Schipper has missed the final of the women’s 200m butterfly after swimming a time of 2:08.21 – good enough for 13th.
American Kathleen Hersey was the fastest qualifier in 2:05.90.
Schipper, who has two Olympic Games gold medals (one as a relay heat swimmer) and two bronze already on her mantle piece, had a tough lead up to London, undergoing surgery to remove an ovarian cyst just a few months ago. The resulting recovery forced her out of the water for almost a month.
The triple Olympian was loathe to use the setback as an excuse but couldn’t help lament her predicament.
“I’ve got a bit of mixed emotions,” Schipper said.
“I was hoping to get to the final tomorrow night but my preparation has been out of control and I don’t have any regrets, which is a good thing. I definitely always want a medal but at the end of the day I swam that race as best as I could.”
Men’s 200m breaststroke semi-finals
Brenton Rickard has scraped into the men’s 200m breaststroke final in eighth place courtesy of a courageous outside lane swim in his semi-final.
The canny veteran won silver in the event in Beijing and was determined to be on the big stage again, challenging for the lead with just 30 metres to go before hanging on for a time of 2:09.31.
Much to the packed crowd’s delight Great Britain’s Michael Jamieson was the top performer in 2:08.20 from Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta (2:08.32), who won a silver medal in the event at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as a wide-eyed 15 year-old and was fifth in Beijing four years later.
Like Michael Phelps has been in a number of events at this meet, Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima is aiming to create history by winning a third straight individual Olympic crown following mighty victories in 2004 and 2008. So far Phelps has been unsuccessful – the question is can Kitajima do it as the fifth fastest qualifier?
Rickard appeared unconcerned his tiring last 25 metres might have any effect on the final tomorrow, believing his experience would help.
“I did get a bit tired but I think I can go quicker tomorrow night in the final. There’s a little bit left in the tank,” Rickard said.
“I’ll see what I can pull out in the final but I’ll definitely give it a real go.”
Men’s 200m butterfly
There were no Aussies in the men’s 200m butterfly but interest centred around Michael Phelps and his quest to become the first male swimmer in history to win a third straight Olympic crown.
But he couldn’t do it, being upstaged for the third time this week as he was mowed down on the last lap by 20 year-old South African Chad le Clos.
Le Clos came from third at the 150m mark to hit the wall in 1:52.96, just 0.05 from a tiring Phelps with Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda, runner-up in Beijing four years ago, getting the bronze in 1:53.21.
Dave Lyall at the Aquatic Centre
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