Swimming: Unheralded Wang spoils GB hopes and Hynd podium party
The Aquatics Centre
Saturday 01 September 2012
It was the photographers who finally managed what the Hynd brothers could not and ushered Wang Yinan out of the picture. The shot they wanted was of the two Britons together on the podium and it was Wang who had prevented the picture-perfect moment for the Hynd family and the home supporters, outracing Oliver, the younger brother, over the last length of the 400 metres freestyle.
Wang shuffled off centre stage but it was with the gold medal around his neck. Oliver, in his first Paralympic Games, took silver and Sam bronze. They had qualified first and second fastest for the final, with a third Briton Thomas Young, right behind them to raise hopes of a Hynd one-two – to outdo even the Brownlees – and indeed a British sweep of the podium.
But Wang, whom both brothers confessed to never having heard of ahead of the morning's heats, put an emphatic end to that prospect. Seventeen-year-old Oliver, three years younger than Sam, led as the field turned into the final 50m only for the 22-year-old Chinese to produce dramatic acceleration and complete the final length 0.9sec quicker than the Briton. Young was fourth.
"He had a 10-second personal best [improvement] from this morning," said Sam Hynd, who had won the event in Beijing four years ago. "That's a phenomenal time to drop in one day. I didn't expect him to go as fast as he did, but that's racing."
The Hynd silver was the first of five for Britain in the pool last night. Heather Frederiksen was second in the S8 400m freestyle, Stephanie Millward was runner-up in the S9 100m backstroke as was James Crisp in the S9 100m backstroke. It was Crisp's 12th Paralympic medal, a total that would have been greater had he not missed Beijing with a back injury.
Aaron Moores completed the host nation's silver lining in the S14 100m backstroke. Seven of Britain's nine swimming medals have been now been silver, which brings with it a degree of frustration.
Frederiksen, who runs a driving- instruction business, was relieved just to be on the podium after a tough start to the year. In March she spent three weeks in hospital being treated for neuralgic migraines. The illness cost her part of her sight in her right eye.
A former open-water swimmer, Frederiksen won the British championship in 2004 and was targeting the Beijing Olympics, where the event was to make its debut, when she had an accident that left her with limited use of her right arm and leg. She did win gold in Beijing but in the Paralympics and last night she collected her fifth medal.
"Just to be here is absolutely phenomenal," she said. "All I wanted was a medal. Coming into this I've only done six weeks' worth of training."
The Briton was beaten by Jessica Long, the American producing a world record swim to claim the second of what she hopes will be a total of nine gold medals in London. She won seven aged 16 in Beijing and looks even better four years on. Long was born in Irkutsk in Siberia where she spent the first 13 months of her life in a state orphanage before being adopted, along with a little boy from the same orphanage, and renamed by an American couple. Five months after she arrived in Baltimore she had both her legs amputated, having been born without any fibulas, ankles or heels.
Bethany Firth took Ireland's first medal in the London pool in grand fashion. The 16-year-old from Downpatrick, born on Valentine's Day, won the S14 100m backstroke. Britain's Jessica-Jane Applegate missed the bronze in the same event by just 0.08sec.
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