Golden night for Dolphins as backstrokers rule the pool

ES_MW Australian backstrokers Emily Seebohm, Mitch Larkin and Madi Wilson ruled the pool on a golden night for the Dolphins at the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan tonight. In Australia’s finest single night since the 2005 World titles in Montreal, Seebohm and Wilson rocked the stadium winning gold and silver in the women’s 100m backstroke before fellow Brisbane team mate Mitch Larkin charged home to add his own glittering, striking gold in the men’s 100m backstroke. Two individual gold and one silver is the best night the Dolphins have had since the final night in 2005 when they won four gold. The catch cry didn’t take long to filter through the ecstatic Australian team that “backstrokers rule” on a glowing night for Head Coach Jacco Verhaeren and his Dolphins. It was a special night for Seebohm, 23, who has finally cracked it for gold at her fifth World Championships, having won silver and bronze in two of the last three world championships and an agonising silver at the London Olympics in 2012. To see 21-year-old Wilson touch for silver and the two Australian girls hugging in the water and then sharing the National Anthem were moments to savour. After watching the Beijing Olympics in 2008 closely, Wilson left far-North Queensland to chase her dreams in the pool and to join Michael Bohl at St Peters Western and tonight in Kazan they came true. Seebohm was over the moon, having overcome so much in the past two months, with a new coach David Lush and her dislocated knee from a horse riding accident – there were moments when her World Championship dreams were on shaky ground. “I’ve got to thank the coaches that have worked with me, obviously Matt [Brown] I’ve worked with him for 13 years, I worked with Simon [Cusack] for a week, I worked with Richard [Scarce] for week  and then I found my home at Brisbane Grammar with David Lush and I couldn’t be happier,” said Seebohm. “I’ve worked really hard to deal with the pressure of being in lane four and everything that comes with all of that and I went in there tonight; I smiled, I laughed, I had fun with the girls and that’s what I forgot in London. “(In the past) I was taking it too seriously and not enjoying every moment that I had and I’m over the moon because I got to enjoy every second of it. “I wasn’t terrified, I wasn’t nervous…I was there and I was tough and I worked through it. Can you remember much about the race? “Not at all. To be honest I was singing a country song on the way down and then on the way back I told myself that I wanted to back end and I had to finish it off, and I did and I touched the wall and I was just so excited, “she said. “I saw the light on my block and I thought ‘wow this is the moment, this is what you’ve dreamt of for years.” “(When the race was over) I thought is that my name with a number 1 and I was like ‘yes it is! I did it, I finally did it.’ A Mitch in time as Larkin strikes back For Madi Wilson’s training partner London Olympian and world short course champion Mitch Larkin, the hard yards have finally paid off, reflecting that two years ago he actually finished 17th and missed the semi-finals. Tonight he too stood clutching a gold medal, listening to Advance Australia Fair with the Australian Flag flying overhead, believing all the hard work was worth it. Larkin becomes the first Australian backstroker since Matt Welsh in 2001 and only the second Australian to win the event since 1973 and he knew the best backstrokers would make him earn his gold medal. “I knew they would probably be with me or just in front, obviously the 200 is sort of my background, so I knew I could try and catch up to them and try and pull away in that last 25 metres and….I was able to do that,” said Larkin. “It’s 100 metres, there’s not so much you can really do, you just sort of shut your eyes and swing those arms and kick like hell! “I’ve been training really well for probably the last two years. The last six months has been really, really good so I think just putting my races together is an area where I have really improved and keeping a cool and relaxed head. “At the big meets like this I’d often get caught up in the circus acts, the lights, the sounds, the big atmosphere and here I’ve sort of just taken it in and enjoyed it rather than thought ‘this is a world championships’ or anything like that. “I came here trying to go 52 [seconds] and just off the top of my head probably next year I’d love to see if I can go 51 [seconds] and if not next year, in the next couple of years anyway.” Meanwhile in a jam packed night for Australian Dolphins, Jessica Ashwood showed no signs of slowing down, lowering yet another Australian record this time in the finals of the women’s 1500m freestyle where she placed fifth overall. With the USA’s Katie Ledecky swimming well under world record pace, Ashwood too swam out of her skin clocking a 15:52.17, smashing her previous Australian record, that she set in the heats yesterday, by a massive four seconds. Ledecky thrilled the large crowd recording a new world record time of 15:25.48 with the silver medal going to Lauren Boyle (15:40.14) from New Zealand with Hungarian Boglarka Kapas (15:47.09) taking the bronze. The men’s 200m freestyle final saw a surprise winner in Great Britain’s James Guy in a speedy 1:45.14. Aussie underdog Cameron McEvoy was just off the pace, finishing eighth in 1:47.26. With his main event, the 100m freestyle still to come McEvoy will be looking to move up the ranks in the blue ribband event. With less than one second separating the entire top eight of the women’s 200m freestyle, Emma McKeon snuck into the final with a time of 1:56.95. McKeon has the skills and the speed to mix it with the best and with the swimmers so closely matched, the world title will be anyone’s for the taking. The men’s 200m butterfly semi-finals had two Dolphins vying for a spot in the finals in Grant Irvine (1:57.94) and David Morgan (1:58.83). Both boys struggled to back up from the heats this morning and finished 15th and 16th respectively. Australian Medal Tally Gold: 3 Silver: 1 Bronze: 1 New Australian Records: 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 - 05/08/2015
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