Franklin posts golden treble at swimming worlds

Updated 12 August 2013
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Franklin posts golden treble at swimming worlds

BARCELONA: Missy Franklin decided on Wednesday to give up her bid for eight gold medals at the world swimming championships — and was immediately rewarded with her third victory in as many races.
Franklin held off a late challenge from Federica Pelligrini to win the 200-meter freestyle, claiming a title the recent high school graduate really wanted and justifying her decision earlier in the day to cut back on the program in Barcelona. She also has gold medals here from the 4x100 free relay and the 100 backstroke.
The 18-year-old American entered eight events, giving her a chance to match Michael Phelps as the only swimmers to win that many events at a major championship.
But, after a tough double on Tuesday and a lackluster showing in the morning preliminaries, Franklin and her coach, Todd Schmitz, decided to scratch the 50 backstroke — a non-Olympic event that she swims mainly for fun, though she did take bronze at the 2011 worlds in Shanghai.
There was only a 20-minute break between the semifinals of the 50 back and the final of the 200 free, and the latter was much more important to Franklin. She just missed a medal in that event at the London Olympics, losing out for third by a hundredth of a second.
"We decided that maybe the risk kind of outdid the rewards," Franklin said. "So we decided not to do it. It was fun to swim it this morning but I'm really happy with the decision to scratch and just do this."
France's Camille Muffat went out hard, leading after the first lap and 0.75 under the world-record pace. But Franklin edged ahead at the midway point and held off hard-charging Federica Pelligrini of the Italy, the world-record holder, to win in 1 minute, 54.81 seconds.
Pelligrini claimed silver, 0.33 behind the winner, while Muffat settled for the bronze.
Midway through the swimming portion of the championships, Franklin still has four events to go. She'll be a big favorite in the 200 back, and she'll be on two more relay teams that have a good shot at gold. The 100 free presents her biggest challenge, though it would be foolish to put anything past Franklin.
She was fifth in that event at the Olympics, but has spent the past year working diligently to improve her freestyle stroke.
That was obvious in the 200 free.
"We're coming down the mountain now," Franklin said. "This is what we prepared for, this kind of event through eight days. I'm really, really happy with my swim there. You kind of use each swim to motivate you for the next swim."
It was a good night for South Africa, which claimed two gold medals.
Chad le Clos, best known for his upset win over Phelps at the Olympics, showed he's still the man to beat in the 200 butterfly. He went back and forth with Poland's Pawel Korzeniowski before turning it on for the final lap to win in 1:54.32.
After conceding it was a bit nerve-racking to now be looked at as the favorite, Le Clos hopped up on a lane rope, splashed water and pumped his fist. Korzeniowski held on for the silver in 1:55.01, while China's Wu Peng took the bronze at 1:55.09.
"I definitely think that this year I had more pressure. I remember feeling really relaxed last year," Le Clos said. "Just before they announced my name I started feeling the butterflies, shaking a little bit. I just wanted to get out here and control the race. It was definitely different from last year's race."
Maybe it helped having his parents in the stands at the Palau Sant Jordi.
"I actually heard my dad just before I jumped in," Le Clos said. "I heard him say, 'Go boy!'"
With Phelps retired, the Americans were shut out of the medals. Tom Luchsinger was fifth and Tyler Clary seventh.
Cameron van der Burgh claimed gold in the 50 breaststroke, a non-Olympic event. He beat out Australia's Christian Sprenger, a reversal of their finish in the 100 breast. Giulio Zorzi gave South Africa another medal by taking bronze.
China's Sun Yang claimed his second gold of the meet, turning on the speed over the final three laps to win the 800 freestyle going away. His winning time was 7:41.36, adding to his dominating victory in the 400 free. Sun was even more animated than Le Clos, straddling the rope, pounding his chest and pointing toward a group of fans waving the Chinese flag.
Michael McBroom of the U.S. took the silver, 2.24 seconds behind Sun. Canada's Ryan Cochrane rallied for the bronze, edging out American Connor Jaeger by 0.56 seconds.
Ryan Lochte bounced back from a fourth-place showing in his first individual event, the 200 free, moving into the final of the 200 individual medley as the fastest qualifier (1:57.07). He was followed by Japan's Kosuke Hagino and Hungary's Laszlo Cseh.
"I felt like myself again," Lochte said. "The first couple of days, I was worried about winning, worried about the times I went. It wasn't me. It wasn't Ryan Lochte. I woke up this morning without a care. I'm just going out there and having fun."


‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 40 min 16 sec ago
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‘We want to make Saudi Arabia proud’: Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.