China's Ye Shiwen poses with her gold medal after winning the women's 200m individual medley final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai on Monday. It was China's first swimming gold medal of the tournament. Cui Meng / China Daily
Fifteen-year-old gives host its first gold in pool with late surge in 200m medley
SHANGHAI - Chinese teenage swimmer Ye Shiwen won the home team its first swimming gold medal at the 14th FINA World Championships here on Monday by claiming victory in the women's 200m medley, while another Chinese, Lu Ying, settled for bronze in the women's 100m butterfly.
"I'm very glad to represent China here at the World Championships and I'm very glad to take the gold," said 15-year-old Ye after the race.
"Since I'm very young, I still have a lot to improve, step by step, in the future."
In the final, Ye fought back in the last 50m of freestyle to overtake world record holder Ariana Kukors of the United States, who led at the halfway mark, to finish in 2 minutes, 8.90 seconds. Alicia Coutts of Australia won her second silver medal of the night in 2:09.00, while Kukors took the bronze in 2:09.12.
"Lagging behind in the first 150m made me very nervous, but I told myself I have to try my best in the last leg," Ye said. "At one moment I thought I couldn't catch up with the leaders, so I just gave it all I had.
"I thought of the gold before the race, but I didn't put much pressure on myself. I just tried my best."
Born in China's eastern city of Hangzhou, Ye has been passionate about the sport since the age of six when she started swimming after her kindergarten teacher noticed she had large hands.
By 2007, she had made it into Zhejiang's provincial swimming team and the following year she was selected to the national squad.
Ye shone at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, where she claimed victory in the 200m and 400m individual medley events. Her time in the 200m in Guangzhou was ranked the fastest in the world for the year, while her 400m result was the second best.
Therefore, Ye's victory didn't surprise her opponents on Monday.
"I was aware of how wonderful she was before the race. I knew she had the fastest time of the event last year, so I knew she was a fierce competitor. I was looking forward to getting up and racing her to see how I went. I know she's going to be a really, really tough person to beat," said Coutts.
Kukors was also well aware of Ye's potential before the race.
"I definitely knew how great she was and she showed it today," said the world record holder.
In the women's 100m butterfly, China's Olympic 200m butterfly gold medalist, Liu Zige, failed to shine and finished sixth. Her teammate Lu took the bronze in 56.94 seconds. Dana Vollmer of the US won the gold in 56.87 seconds, followed by Coutts in 56.94.
"It was my first time competing in the World Championships and I didn't expect to win the bronze," said 22-year-old Lu. "It's my personal best so I'm very satisfied with the result. Before the race, my coach told me not to think about anything and just focus on the race. I think I did it."
Meanwhile, Liu said she was not in the best of form right now as she has been trying something new in training.
"My form is just so-so right now and I'm not satisfied with the result today," Liu said. "There are some problems with my adjustments. But not every attempt leads to good results. Maybe I haven't found the right training method just yet."
(China Daily 07/26/2011 page24)