Peaty does double; US, Spain romp into water polo final
GWANGJU, South Korea, July 24, (RTRS): Hungarian teenager Kristof Milak shattered Michael Phelps’ 10-year-old world record in the 200 metres butterfly on Wednesday while Adam Peaty sewed up a third straight breaststroke double with victory in the 50 metres at the world championships.
Budapest-born Milak won gold in a time of 1:50.73, lopping 0.78 seconds off Phelps’ 1:51.51 set in Rome in 2009.
“It’s a tremendous honour to set such a great record,” he said. “Until 14 I was a backstroker and later I focused on the butterfly. But earlier I only did 100 metres because I wasn’t strong enough.”
There can be no question about his strength now. At 19, Milak is the youngest winner of the 200 butterfly since Phelps triumphed as an 18-year-old in 2003, the second of the American great’s five world titles in the event.
Peaty shattered a record of his own on Sunday, becoming the first swimmer to go under 57 seconds in the 100 breaststroke semifinals and while he could not repeat the feat in the 50 he was still streets ahead of his rivals.
The Briton posted 26.06, the third fastest 50 of all time and 0.6 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger, Brazilian Felipe Lima.
Chinese swimmer Sun Yang has been a lightning rod for controversy at the championships but his bid for glory in the 800 freestyle fizzled out as he trailed home in sixth.
Sun is swimming under a cloud in Gwangju with a doping case against him set to be heard at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in September.
His presence has upset fans and fellow athletes alike, with two swimmers, Australian Mack Horton and Briton Duncan Scott, showing their displeasure in the most public way possible.
Horton refused to share the podium after picking up silver behind Sun in the 400 while 200 bronze medallist Scott refused to shake his hand at the medals ceremony, a move that triggered a furious response from the Chinese swimmer. All three athletes were sent warning letters by governing body FINA over their conduct.
There was double freestyle delight for Italy with Federica Pellegrini winning the women’s 200 world title for a fourth time and Gregorio Paltrinieri taking gold in the men’s 800.
Paltrinieri said he took no additional pleasure in beating Sun, who also served a doping suspension in 2014.
World record holder Pellegrini, who won her first 200 title a decade ago, hunted down Australian teen Ariarne Titmus over the closing 50 to claim gold in 1:54.22.
“I’m too old for this,” joked a breathless Pellegrini, who celebrates her 31st birthday next month.
Titmus, who stunned Katie Ledecky to win gold in the 400 on Sunday, is the new kid on the block at the worlds but the ‘Terminator’ has a big future.
“Based on training times I probably thought I had a better time in me, but what can you do? It’s what you do on the day and Pellegrini was really good tonight,” she said. Australia ended the night on a high note though with their mixed 4×100 medley relay team pipping the United States to gold by 0.02 seconds, Cate Campbell powering home in a scintillating anchor leg to overhaul Simone Manuel. Since anchoring the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team to gold on Sunday, Campbell has been stuck in the athletes village watching television while her team mates raced.
Meanwhile, holders the United States and former winners Spain romped into the women’s water polo final at the World Aquatics Championships and qualified for the 2020 Olympics after emphatic wins over their respective rivals on Wednesday.
A solid defence propelled the Americans, who have won a record five titles, to a 7-2 win over Australia before 2013 champions Spain overwhelmed Hungary 16-10 thanks to four goals each from Roser Tarrago and Judith Forca Ariza.
The US romped into a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and netted another three unanswered goals before the Australians, who were stifled in the opening half, finally got on the scoreboard midway through the third period.
A Bronte Halligan goal reduced the arrears to 6-2 before Alys Williams put the icing on the cake for the United States, whose goalkeeper Ashleigh Johnson racked up 14 saves.
Williams, Stephania Haralabidis and the game’s most valuable player Makenzie Fischer led the winners with two goals apiece. The other semi-final produced an avalanche of goals with Tarrago scoring four of Spain’s opening six to help her team to a 10-8 halftime lead.
Ariza took over in the second half with three successive strikes amid a 6-1 run which put the game beyond Hungary’s reach despite a fine individual performance by Dora Leimeter, who also scored four goals.
Australia will clash with Hungary in the bronze medal match before the US take on Spain in the final on Friday.