Katinka Hosszu’s love affair with Hamad Aquatic Centre continued yesterday as the Hungarian scooped two gold and one bronze on the opening night of the FINA Swimming World Cup.
Having come off five victories from the first leg in Kazan last week, Hosszu is set for another grand haul in Doha, which has been one of her favourite hunting grounds.
Hosszu is the closest challenger to leader Sarah Sjostrom for the overall winner’s title, and after yesterday’s performance, she will fancy her chances of overtaking the Swede.
Sjostrom, too, had a productive day, winning the only race she took part in. The Swedish sprint queen and Russia’s Vladimir Morozov, who is leading the men’s ranking, won the 50m freestyle to keep their chances of wins in cluster 1 intact.
Hosszu kicked off her Doha campaign with a win in the 400m freestyle. Clocking 4:10.02 the Hungarian ‘Iron Lady’ was ahead of Femke Heemskerk of the Netherlands, who notched 4:12.56 for silver, while China’s Zhou Chanzhen rounded out the top three with a mark of 4:13.62.
Racing in her second swim of the night, Hosszu had to settle for bronze in the 50m backstroke. She timed 28.57 seconds behind Dutch Kira Toussaint, who followed up her Kazan victory with another win in the event. The 24-year-old won the race in Kazan in 28.18 and shaved .17 off of that result in Doha. Toussaint’s compatriot Ranomi Kromowidjojo was second in 28.49.
Hosszu second gold came in the 200m butterfly, although she only had to beat one other swimmer to land on the podium. Amid a field of just four competitors, with one disqualified for the final, Hosszu cruised to first place in a solid 2:09.26. Her Hungarian teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos followed in a time of 2:10.34 for silver.
“I am happy with my performance. It’s always good to win races and I have enjoyed the opening day in Doha,” said Hosszu. “I am trying to keep the right balance. My message for young swimmers is to enjoy your swimming,” she added.
As expected, Sjostrom comfortably won the women’s 50m freestyle. The 25-year-old had created a new World Cup record last week in Kazan, clocking a monster effort of 23.83. She wasn’t too far off that mark last night, crushing a 23.99 to take gold. “I was expecting this victory. I am happy to continue winning this event and I am looking for some more victories in Doha,” said Sjostrom.
Meanwhile, Morozov, who broke a World Cup record in 50m freestyle in Kazan, overcame a stiff challenge from American teenager Michael Andrew and his compatriot Blake Pieroni to win in the event with a time of 21.80.
“I am happy to win the race. I am targeting a total of three gold medals in Doha,” the Russian said after his victory. “However, two wins in Doha should be enough for me to secure cluster 1 win,” he added.
Pieroni and Andrew also recorded a victory each on the first day. Pieroni topped the men’s 400m freestyle race in 51.83 followed by Belgium’s Lorenz Weiremans and Wu Yuhang of China.
World junior champion Andrew sealed 100m butterfly win in 51.83 with South Africa’s Ryan Coetzee and Dutchman Mathys Goosen second and third respectively.
The men’s 200m backstroke saw Australia’s Mitchell Larkin easily take the gold in a time of 1:57.45. He was followed by Spain’s Manuel Bacarizo and Hungary’s David Verraszto.
South African star Chad Le Clos was under the weather yesterday and pulled out of the morning’s prelims. He later tweeted to say he was hoping to be in action today, with 10 finals scheduled on the second day.
“Hey guys I got a fever and vomiting all night, so wasn’t able to swim today, gutted not to able to compete but hopefully feel better tomorrow, good luck to rest of athletes thanks for the support,” the South African tweeted.
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