Hannah Miley held off the challenge of Chinese prodigy Ye Shiwen to win gold at the World Short-Course Championships last night and begin British Swimming's healing process in the wake of a desperately disappointing London Olympics.
Miley was one of those who failed to live up to her promise over the summer – in part due to the controversial Ye's stunning swim in the 400 metres medley – but compiled one of the best performances of her career in the same event in Istanbul to beat Ye, despite the 16-year-old's now trademark flying finish. Miley had eked out enough of a lead with a superb breaststroke leg, which took her from fourth to first, to hang on. The winning margin was 0.19sec.
Miley set a European record to win the continental short-course title last month and lowered that mark again today. She finished fifth in the 400m in London, like the rest of the field blown away by Ye, who completed her final length faster than Ryan Lochte did in the men's event. Afterwards the 23-year-old Scot tearfully apologised for her performance. Last night she was all smiles again.
It was a good start for Britain with a bronze for Jemma Lowe in the 200m fly as well. Lowe led from the start until tiring over the final length – in short course lengths are 25m as opposed to 50m in the Olympics – but it was nevertheless an encouraging swim by the 22-year-old, who set a new British record. The Hungarian short-course specialist Katinka Hosszu and China's Jiao Liuyang, the Olympic champion, passed Lowe in the closing stages.
The other notable British swim came from Georgia Davies, third fastest into tonight's final of the 100m backstroke in a personal best time.
The first gold of the championships went, inevitably, to Lochte. The 28-year-old had a disappointing Olympics, if two golds and five medals in all can be considered a disappointment. His stated ambition had been to outperform Michael Phelps, but his friend and great rival went home with four golds. Phelps is now retired – although Lochte believes he will not be able to resist the lure of the Rio Games – giving Lochte the opportunity to rule the waves. This is a championships in which he has an outstanding record, winning six gold medals in Dubai two years ago. Last night was his 15th victory, winning the 200m freestyle by 0.15sec from the German Paul Biedermann. There will be more to come this week.
Ruta Meilutyte, the 15-year-old Lithuanian from Plymouth College, gave further notice of her outstanding talent by twice breaking the championship record to qualify fastest for tonight's final of the 50m breaststroke. Meilutyte, who is on a scholarship at the same school as the diver Tom Daley, won a shock gold at the London Games.