Big Mack digs deep for 800m freestyle bronze

Image (C) Swimming Australia Young gun Mack Horton showed just how tough a competitor he is to claim a deserved bronze medal in tonight’s 800 metres freestyle final on the fourth night of the FINA World Championships in Kazan. It took the Dolphins overall medal tally to three gold, one silver and two bronze after four nights of racing. Horton had to dig deep mentally after missing the 400 metres freestyle final on the opening day and physically over the final 100 metres with challengers spread across the pool. After leading through the first half of the race Horton was claimed by Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri and defending world champion Sun Yang who opened up a commanding lead over the final 400 metres. It left Horton, Connor Jaeger (USA), Henrik Christiansen (Denmark) and Wojciech Wojdak (Poland) to battle it out for the bronze. With Sun edging in front for gold ahead of Paltrinieri, Horton made a charge in the final stages to swim past Wojdak and hold the others at bay to claim third by less than half a second. “It was pretty tough to see across the pool so I didn’t realise until the last little bit that they were out (in front),” said Horton. “I couldn’t really see the guys on the far side but there was the swimmer next to me and someone two lanes over all in a line on the last 100 so I knew I had to put in a fairly solid swim on the last 100 (metres). “In the end I was just happy to touch the wall and claim the bronze medal and the time (7:44.02 although a personal best) wasn’t the main focus; I was swimming to win, it’s a world championship and you swim to win. “I also think I’ve learnt a lot bouncing back from that (missing the 400m final); that will be invaluable experience next year at the Olympics. “It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the whole thing, lots of famous people, all the hype around the meet, all the media and that sort of thing. “So I’ve just learnt to try and focus on myself and forget about everything. Focus on what I need to do to swim fast. “It’s quite a big step up from Commonwealth Games, like I’ve said before it’s all stepping stones; Commonwealth Games, World Champs and then Olympics.” The only other Australian finalist tonight, saw Brisbane’s Emma McKeon, produce another solid performance to finish a close-up seventh in the 200m freestyle final in 1:56.41 – just 1.25 behind winner Katie Ledecky (USA). McKeon, one of the real mainstays of Australia’s women’s ranks, finished fourth in the 100m butterfly earlier in the week after swimming the second leg of Australia’s gold medal winning 4x100m freestyle relay on the opening night. She will now take her place in the 4x200m freestyle relay tomorrow night, the women’s 50m butterfly and the medley relay, to finish off a busy week. “I know this places me in a good position for next year and I’m looking forward to that and I know it’s going to be a lot quicker,” said McKeon. “But I am also looking to try and get some more international racing experience against these girls as well, that’s what I am really lacking.” Cam’s plan to up the ante in 100m freestyle final Meanwhile Australian and Pan Pacific Champion in the 100m freestyle 21-year-old Cameron McEvoy executed an almost perfect semi-final to move through to tomorrow night as the top qualifier, clocking 47.94, the fastest time in the world this year. McEvoy was the only swimmer to dip under the 48-second mark with his 200 metre training propelling him ahead of the field in the final 50 metres to take top spot and get the chance to swim from lane four in the final tomorrow. Australia’s James Magnussen took the crown in Shanghai 2011 and Barcelona 2013 but with Magnussen out due to shoulder surgery, McEvoy will be looking to maintain his number one ranking and keep the world title in Australia for the third consecutive World Championships. Ning Zetao of China is the second fastest qualifier with a time of 48.13, just ahead of Argentina’s FedericoGrabich at 48.20 with Olympic champion and bronze medallist from 2013, Nathan Adrian fifth in 48.36. McEvoy said he would like to go out quicker than his 22.97 (50m split) in tomorrow night’s final. “I have been out quicker in the past and it’s a matter of getting out with that easy speed under nice composure so I don’t blow up in the last 15 metres,” said McEvoy. "Anyone in the final has the opportunity to step up and win this thing; I don’t look at the race as being under pressure or having to step up. “I just look at it as getting out there and doing what I have been practicing to do for these last 12 months; that’s the number one goal….to get everything right and come out with a best time.” McEvoy said he has spoken to Magnussen a few times this past week. “And the whole team had him on Facetime a few days ago and I know he will be right behind me cheering me on tomorrow night,” said McEvoy Seebohm and Wilson into 50m final Backstroking “twins” Emily Seebohm and Madi Wilson have successfully moved through to the final of the women’s 50m backstroke in fifth and sixth place respectively, just 24 hours after their 1-2 finish in the 100m backstroke final. Seebohm stopped the clock at 27.70 with Wilson in 27.83 with less than one second between the top eight. China’s Yuhanui Fu will go in as favourite with a semi-final time of 27.18. Swimming in the first semi-final of the women’s 200m butterfly, Brianna Throssell flew home in the last two laps to touch in a time of 2:07.57 which will see her ranked equal sixth position for tomorrow night’s final. Throssell, who is coached by Matt Magee in Perth, will be swimming from lane one and looking to lower her personal best time of 2:06.60 and work her way up the international swimming ranks. Fellow Aussie Maddie Groves was unlucky to miss a spot in tomorrow’s final after finishing ninth overall in a time of 2:08.00. Australia’s Tom Fraser-Holmes put in a solid swim to finish 10th overall in the 200m individual medley in 1:58.83 with the USA’s Ryan Lochte clocking a 1:56.81 to move through as fastest qualifier for the final tomorrow night. Australian Medal Tally Gold: 3 Silver: 1 Bronze: 2 New Australian Records at the meet: Women’s 400m freestyle: 4:03.34 – Jessica Ashwood, Women’s 1500m freestyle: 15:52.17 – Jessica Ashwood, Men’s 100m backstroke: 52.38 – Mitch Larkin (Commonwealth Record) The heats will continue tomorrow morning from 9:30am local time and will be available LIVE on 7TWO and 7swimming.com.au from 4:30pm AEST. The finals will be also be replayed on the seven network prior to the heats, check your local guides for details. For more information on the event go to www.fina.org.au Source: Swimming Australia - 06/08/15
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