Records continue to tumble as China makes more waves at the Aquatics Centre
Thursday 02 August 2012
Two more world records, a fingernail finish to the men's 100m freestyle, another is-she-isn't-she sighting of Ye Shiwen and at last some encouragement for the home nation were corralled together to create another rousing evening's entertainment in the Aquatics Centre.
There was also more Chinese gold. Jiao Liuyang set a new Olympic record of 2min 04.06sec to win the 200m butterfly by a comfortable margin and collect a fourth gold for China. It is easily their most productive Games in the pool – only the United States stand ahead of them in the medal table and they have at least one more probable gold to come. Sun Yang is pretty close to a banker in the 1500m free on Saturday, the last night of finals.
It is a performance that should attract plaudits (but they cannot be delivered with certainty) and is the outcome, in part, to investing huge amounts in the sport in an attempt to conjure home medals in Beijing. It is bearing fruit in London and seems set to get even better with eight of the Chinese women's team under 17.
One of them, of course is Ye and the speculation around her performances show no sign of abating. Reports emerged last night of Ye disappearing into a disabled toilet for several minutes ahead of her race last Saturday with two members of the Chinese support team.
Yesterday Fina, the sport's governing body, released a statement backing the 16-year-old and pointing out that she has been tested four times in the last year. That included two tests in March ahead of the Chinese Olympic trials.
"Fina would like to clearly state that there is no factual basis to support this kind of insinuations related to the performances of the Chinese swimmer, Shiwen Ye," said the statement. There has been a strong reaction in China to the manner in which Ye's victories, which included a sensational world record in the 400m individual medley, have been received around the world with accusations made of western bias, but questions will remain
Last night she made little impact in her leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay – a distance not suited to her – as Australia and the US battled neck and neck until the American Allison Schmitt settled it to claim her second gold and fourth medal of the meet. Britain finished a respectable fifth, while France took bronze.
The men's 100m lived up to its pre-race billing and produced the finish of the night, Nathan Adrian touching ahead of James Magnussen by 0.01sec. Magnussen, the world champion, had carried the hopes of Australia's men to London only to be horribly denied. With Australia coming fourth in the 100m freestyle relay this is not developing into the Olympic debut Magnussen had prophesied .
James Goddard qualified well for tonight's final of the 200m individual medley but with Laszlo Cseh finding his form to advance quickest ahead of Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps, a medal would be some achievement.
Jemma Lowe came sixth in the 200m butterfly final. Fran Halsall has a much better chance in the 100m freestyle, although the gold the home team so desperately crave will require the 21-year-old's best ever swim. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, the flying Dutchwoman, led the way into tonight's final, setting a new Olympic record of 53.05 en route.
The night's first world record went to Daniel Gyurta in the 200m breaststroke. He recorded 2:07.28.The second went to Rebecca Soni. She had been made to seem a creaking veteran by 15-year-old Ruta Meilutyte earlier in the week, but the American, who is all of 25, made the first move towards making amends in the 200m breaststroke. She touched in 2:20.
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