Bronte’s time to shine as Mitch backs up to take rare double gold

Campbell sisters Image (c) Swimming Australia She has been in the shadow of her big sister since she started swimming but tonight it was Bronte Campbell’s turn to shine on the world’s biggest stage when she created family history on a victorious night for Australia at the World Swimming Championships in Kazan. The 21-year-old younger Campbell sister added her name to the history books when she became world champion in swimming’s blue ribband event, the 100m freestyle. She joins older sister Cate as a world champion in the same event – a feat never before achieved in FINA’s history – and is now the third fastest woman in history behind Britta Steffen and Cate. In a blanket finish, Bronte swam her perfect race, clocking a personal best time of 52.52 to sneak home against Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom (52.70) with defending champion sister Cate, just a touch behind taking the bronze in 52.82. And their smiles were still beaming poolside when Dolphins teammate Mitch Larkin launched himself into action chasing his own place in the annals of Australia’s national pastime. And in just 1 minute 53.58 seconds the 22-year-old Olympian became the first Australian to win the 200m backstroke and the first to win the 100-200m double and in a new Commonwealth record time. Then in the final event of the evening Australia’s new-look 4x200m freestyle relay team dug deep to stage a barnstorming finish for bronze behind a rejuvenated British team and defending and Olympic champions the USA. The double gold and bronze have taken the Dolphins medal tally to 5 gold 2 silver and 4 bronze – equal gold with the US and Great Britain and second to the Americans on total medals – and two more gold than the last World Championships in Barcelona in 2013. Bronte admitted she had been in big sister Cate’s shadow for all of her career but had been told by coach Simon Cusack to be patient and that her time would come. That time arrived tonight at 17:32 on Friday, August 17, 2015. “It was a fantastic race with world and Olympic champions and world record holders so I was looking forward to being a part of it,” said Bronte. “And to come out on top and to stand up there in a final and give my best, it’s something you dream about and dreams do come true… “I love competing, I love the fact that it was a really tight race, I knew going in it was going to be really tough and it’s the challenge we all love as athletes and you just rise to it and it makes it even more exciting for you. “It’s the best race I’ve ever put together, I haven’t had a look at the analysis but I’m willing to bet my start and turn are the best they have ever been. “That’s something I’ve been working on and to get to put all those skills into practice and to do it when the pressure’s on is something I’m quite proud of. “It’s the little things you have to think about when you get up there in a final it’s not even really about the times that you do. “It’s about the race that you end up swimming and the best races I’ve ever done are when I’ve just enjoyed it. “You never think about the result, it’s all about the process, if you’re thinking about winning then you re not thinking about how your start’s going to go or how your turns going to go.” The men’s 200m backstroke was the next event on the program and after watching the Campbell sisters take gold and bronze as he sat in the marshalling room, Mitch Larkin was inspired to do something special. The world champion from the 100m backstroke on night two was the favourite from the heats all the way through to the final and managed to maintain his composure when it counted to take his second world title in four days. Larkin clocked a Commonwealth and Australian record in the 200m backstroke to take the title in a time of 1:53.58 – making him the fifth fastest man in history. He touched the wall almost one second clear of the silver medallist Radoslaw Kawecki (POL) in 1:54.55 with Russia’s Evgeny Rylov third in 1:54.60. Larkin’s motivation stemmed from missing the semi-finals in this event in 2013 and his confidence was built through encouraging international results in 2014. “I knew I was capable of performing at this big pressure meet, I had a good performance at Comm Games and then Pan Pacs and obviously World Short Course, so it’s sort of been a nice progression and then this tops it off,” said Larkin. When speaking about his success at this meet Larkin said he welcomed the challenge on the road to Rio. “As Bohly (Larkin’s Coach) said I might have upset a few people this week, and I think he’s right, you know they will be training really hard for the next 12 months but you know it’s a new challenge for me and I look forward to it,” Larkin said. When asked what it would be like going into an Olympics Games as a World Champion Larkin replied, “I don’t know I’ve never done it before, but it certainly gives me a lot of confidence and like I said I know how I’ve been training and it’s just a matter of lifting the levels and seeing what happens next.” The now dual world champion joins an elite group of only four other swimmers to win the elusive 100-200 backstroke double; German legend Roland Matthes  in 1973, Igor Polyansky (RUS) in 1986 and US pair Lenny Krayzelburg (1998) and Aaron Peirsol (2003 and 2005). Swimming in the centre of the pool the Australian men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team put it all on the line in the final tonight with a gutsy team effort adding another bronze to the ever-growing medal tally in Kazan. After qualifying in top spot from the heats with 18-time World Championship medallist Grant Hackett leading off this morning the boys had a big job ahead of them with Great Britain adding their world champion in the 200m freestyle James Guy and the USA bringing in their powerhouse Ryan Lochte. Australian champion and silver medallist from the 100m freestyle Cam McEvoy led the team from the blocks splitting a 1:46.46 to keep the team in the mix at the first change. The middle-men David McKeon (1:47.05) who came in for Hackett and Dan Smith (1:46.38) went out hard and held on to have Australia fourth at the final change with Pan Pacific champion Thomas Fraser-Holmes to bring them home. With the top time in the world for 2014 Fraser-Holmes was almost back to his best in the relay tonight, digging deep to overtake Russia for a place on the podium and split a 1:45.45 for an overall time of 7:08.40. Speaking about the team’s result Fraser-Holmes was confident they were back on track for Rio 2016. “I’m just happy I’m back in that 1:45 range again. There could have been a few things I would have done a little bit different but I’m happy and the most important thing is the team is back to where it needs to be,” Fraser-Holmes said. “The most positive thing about tonight is that everyone dug deep and got really stuck into it. That’s what the team has been lacking in the last couple of years and that real Aussie spirit was there tonight and that’s so contagious as a team and then it spreads through the wider team as well.” Tonight’s quartet qualified for the final thanks to heat swimmers, the experienced Hackett and rookie Kurt Herzog with Fraser-Holmes praising their hard work and Hackett’s wealth of knowledge. “(Grant) was really good tonight, he was on pool deck, he walked us to the marshalling room and offered me a bit of support with the anchoring role. You know I really thrive on that sort of stuff and Grant’s obviously been my hero since I was a little kid, so to be at a world championships with my hero is something that I never thought would have happened,” Fraser-Holmes said. Meanwhile 100m backstroke world champion Emily Seebohm is the second fastest qualifier into the 200m backstroke final, clocking a time of 2:06.56. She chased home top qualifier Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (2:06.18) in her heat which placed her ahead of defending and Olympic champion the USA’s Missy Franklin (2:07.79). In other semi-final action, three-time World Championship representative Matthew Abood lined up in the men’s 50m freestyle splash and dash t but couldn’t quite secure a final berth. Abood clocked a 22.16 which saw him finish 14th overall.  Olympic gold medallist in the 100m freestyle Nathan Adrian was the fastest qualifier with his pb of 21.37. In the men’s 100m butterfly semi-finals,Simon Cusack’s boys Jayden Hadler and Tommaso D’Orsogna finished 12th and 15th respectively. Hadler stopped the clock at 52.09 in the first semi-final with D’Orsogna following up with a 52.26 in the second semi-final in a race into the top eight that saw a time of 51.51 take eighth place with the USA’s Tom Shields and Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh equal top qualifiers on 51.03. Source: Swimming Australia - 08/08/15
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