Phelps Gets His First Gold At World Aquatic Championships; SOFLO’s Polyakov Swims Thursday

Phelps Gets His First Gold At World Aquatic Championships; SOFLO’s Polyakov Swims Thursday

July 27, 2011


Don’t write Michael Phelps off just yet.

The 14-time Olympic gold medal winner won his first gold medal of the XIV FINA World Aquatic Championships in Shanghai, China exactly one year out from the 2012 London Olympics.

After taking a bronze in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay and silver in the 200-meter freestyle, Phelps, 26, won the 200-meter butterfly, his fifth world title in the event, in 1:53.34.

It was the only medal the U.S. collected on Wednesday at the Oriental Sports Center.

Behind Phelps, Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda took silver in 1:54.01 and China’s Wu Peng won the bronze in 1:54.67.

Phelps overtook Matsuda in the last 50 meters and held off Peng.

“I had written down in my journal all the times I wanted to do at this meet and so far I’m on pace,” Phelps said. “Every single one that I’ve written down, I’m right at it. I wanted to be 1:53 low, and that’s what I was.

“That’s a second and a half faster than last year, and I feel like I’m kind of getting back,” Phelps said. “I felt like my old self the last 100 of that race, especially that last 25. I didn’t feel like I was dying and barely able to get my arms out of the water and like there was a piano on my back. I actually felt like I was swimming for a whole 200 meters, so it felt good. Being able to swing all these semis and finals, I haven’t been able to do this physically for a while.

“I’m happy but this is just a small step for me next year. I still want more and I want to be faster.”

Phelps’ world streak in the 200-meter butterfly dates back to 2001. He said while he was on the medal stand he couldn’t help but think back to his first world title ten years ago when he was 16.

“That’s sort of my bread and butter event, and my family’s break and butter event, and being able to get it back and keep it,” Phelps said. “It may not always be a fun event but it’s something I built my career off of. I know what I have to do in the next year to be able to be where I want to be.

“Like I said, I’m heading in the right direction and I’m, very pleased.”

Phelps is still getting a little ribbing from his fellow swimmers after forgetting his swim trunks on Tuesday and borrowing Australia’s Eamon Sullivan’s trunks with AUS written on the back of the trunks.

In the women’s 200-meter freestyle, Italy’s Federica Pellegrini defended her title and won her second gold medal of the meet in 1:55.58. She was fifth after the first 100 meters.

Pellegrini also won the 400 freestyle title. She won both events in 2009.

“I’m very happy and very proud of the gold medal, I am almost crying because it is so tough,” Pellegrini said. “I am in improving and my goal is the London Olympics.”

Kylie Palmer of Australia took silver in 1:56.04 and Camille Muffat of France took bronze in 1:56.10. American Allison Schmitt, the early leader, missed out on a medal.

China’s Sun Yang won the gold medal in the 800-meter freestyle in 7:38.57 followed by Canada’s Ryan Cochrane in 7:41.86 and Hungary’s Gergo Kis in 7:44.94. American’s Chad LaTourette and Peter Vanderkaay were shut out of medals.

Brazilian Felipe Franca Da Silva was a surprise winner in the men’s 50-meter breaststroke in 27.01. It was Brazil’s first world title in the event. However, controversy surrounded the win. An underwater video footage shows that Silva used an illegal dolphin kick at the finish of the race. FINA does not use underwater videos for official results.

Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli took silver in 27.17 and world record holder Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa took the bronze in 27.19. American Mark Gangloff was sixth in 27.58.

In semifinal heats, 16-year-old teenager Missy Franklin, making her worlds debut, qualified sixth in the 50-meter backstroke in 28.14. Ryan Lochte was top qualifier in the 200-meter individual medley in 1:56.74 and Phelps was second in 1:57.26.

On Thursday, SOFLO two-time Olympian Vlad Polyakov will compete in his third and final event of worlds, the 200-meter breaststroke prelims.

Water polo

Greece and China will battle for the women’s water polo gold medal at the Natatorium on Friday. Both teams are making their championship debut. In the semifinals, Greece defeated Italy, 14-11. China won its semifinal against Russia, 13-11. In the round of 5-8 semifinals outgoing world champion United States defeated Canada, 8-4.

Medal Tally

Host China is leading with 29 total medals including 13 gold and 11 silvers, Russia is second with 14 total medals and the United States is picking up steam with 13 including five gold medals.

Sharon Robb can be reached at



July 27, 2011


For South Florida Aquatic Club athletes and coaches training for Olympic glory at the 2012 London Games, Wednesday marks the one-year countdown to the lighting of the flame at the opening ceremony extravaganza in the 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium.

With just one year to go before the 2012 Olympic Summer Games get under way in London (July 27-August 12) and surrounding suburbs, Great Britain’s Organizing Committee Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe is confident.

Britain has spent the past six years since it won the bid preparing for the world’s greatest show with a budget in the billions.

Between the Olympics and Paralympics (Aug. 29-Sept. 9) the numbers are staggering—36 competition venues, 14,700 athletes, 21,000 broadcasters and media members, 10.8 million ticket holders, 6,000 paid staff and up to 7,000 volunteers

“We think we are in good shape,” Coe told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s a pretty big moment for us,” Coe said. “I think we probably recognize, as most host cities do, that the moment when you actually hit, one year to go is a pretty defining moment,” said Coe, the only man to win the 1,500 meters gold in track and field at successive Olympics.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge will offer a first glimpse of the design of the Olympic medals Wednesday night in a ceremony at Trafalgar Square. Festivities will also include the opening of the aquatics center, the last of the main venues to be completed in the Olympic Park complex.

Rogge said London’s organizers have been the best prepared he has seen one year out from the Games. “Preparations are excellent,” Rogge said. “They are on time, on budget. Quality-wise we have not the slightest concern. London is very well-organized.”

Coe called it “a pretty big moment” for all those who have devoted years of their lives chasing a dream and will finally get a chance to see what it looks like.

“I hope it is just a taster for the year to come and the sort of excitement that London will expect,” Coe said. “We are pretty much where we would want to be at this point in the project. I am incredibly pleased with where we are.”

For the first time, Russia and China are expected to challenge the United States for supremacy in the medal tally in London. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the U.S. won 110 medals, 10 more than runner-up China.

“It’s an interesting landscape out there,” said Alan Ashley, the U.S. Olympic Committee’s chief of sport performance.

“Some of these other nations are pouring enormous resources into this. Governments are behind them. They’re very serious contenders. That does keep me up at night sometimes.”

Sharon Robb can be reached at