• Local hero Kristof Milak sparks delirium in the Duna Arena by grabbing the 100m butterfly title at Budapest Worlds
Swedish veteran Sarah Sjostrom surged to her fourth straight world title in the women’s 50m butterfly in Budapest yesterday.
Local hero Kristof Milak sparked delirium in the Duna Arena when he grabbed the 100m butterfly title, his second of the week.
Ben Proud claimed Britain’s first gold of the championships as he grabbed victory in the 50m freestyle.
Australian Kaylee McKeown won the women’s 200m backstroke for a first world title to go with three Olympic golds.
Sjostrom won her race in 24.95sec to edge Frenchwoman Melanie Henique by 0.36sec with China’s Zhang Yufei third at 0.37.
“It’s amazing to win this race, to keep myself on the top is very hard,” said Sjostrom.
“That was a tough race. I had a lot of pressure on myself because of my past successes.”
Milak, who had already won the 200m butterfly title, provoked delirium in what he calls “my pool” as he finally won gold in the 100m.
Caeleb Dressel, the reigning world and Olympic champion, pulled out of the competition on Wednesday.
Milak won in 50.14sec, a comfortable 0.80sec ahead of Naoki Mizunuma of Japan, with Canadian Joshua Liendo a further three hundredths of a second back in third.
“Obviously, I’m not satisfied with the time as I swam exactly the same time as in the semis. But I won the gold and that’s the most important now,” said Milak.
“I’m so proud to be Hungarian and I’m overjoyed that here in the arena 4,000 people were cheering for me. I hope, in front of the TVs and all around the world, all 15 million Magyars gave me their support.”
In another event where Dressel had been the reigning champion, Proud exploded from the blocks to take an early lead and held on to win in a time of 21.32.
American Michael Andrew was second on 21.41. Frenchman Maxime Grousset grabbed third.
“Great race, great field, great fans and great job! This is a strong result,” said Proud. “Before I came here, if someone said I’d go home as a world champion, I’d have laughed out loud.”
McKeown chased American Phoebe Bacon down in the last lap to win at the touch by just 0.04sec.
Another American, Rhyan White, was a distant 1.88sec back in third. Sjostrom had a quick turnaround as the semi-finals in the 50m freestyle began 25 minutes after the butterfly final.
The Swede, the world record holder, won the second heat and qualified for the final second to Pole Katarzyna Wasick.
Sjostrom then climbed out of the water and onto the podium for the butterfly victory ceremony and her 19th overall world championship medal, dating back to 2009.
Meanwehile US artistic swimmer Anita Alvarez, who was dramatically rescued from the bottom of the pool after fainting in her solo routine, was omitted from the team event yesterday at the request of governing body FINA. “That was a decision FINA had made,” said Selina Shah, US artistic swimming’s team doctor, making clear she disagreed.
“In my opinion she could have competed, I am very confident,” Shah said.
FINA said in a statement that it had organised a medical examination yesterday morning that included three representatives of its medical committee, its executive Director, Dr Shah and US team offcials.
“The meeting lasted an hour,” said the statement. “Following these discussions, FINA determined that Anita Alvarez should not compete today.
“The health and safety of athletes must always come first. While FINA understands why this decision will have been disappointing to the athlete, it was a decision that was made with her best interests in mind. FINA is delighted that Anita Alvarez has already made such a strong recovery and looks forward to seeing her in competition again soon.”
Shah said she did not know how FINA had reached its conclusion that Alvarez should not compete.
“I’m not aware of their decision making process.”
Alvarez fainted and dropped to the bottom at the end of her individual routine on Wednesday and was saved by her quick-thinking coach, Andrea Fuentes.
Alvarez had been entered in the team event yesterday and was on every official startlist until just before the event was scheduled to begin when she was replaced on the eight-woman team by Yujin Chang. Standing in the warm-up area before the event, as the US swimmers made their final preparations behind her, Shah said she was sure Alvarez would be cheering the team on.
“I think she is very excited for the team to compete and she’s a great athlete and she’s going to be there supporting them.”
The US team finished ninth out of 12 teams in an event won by China. On Wednesday, AFP’s underwater robot camera captured astonishing images as Alvarez sank and her coach, Andrea Fuentes dived to the bottom of the pool and dragging the swimmer to the surface.
“I think she was at least two minutes without breathing because her lungs were full of water,” said Fuentes, a four-time Olympic artistic swimming medallist, adding that the swimmer’s heart was beating.
The USA artistic team released a statement on Thursday saying Alvarez had fainted due to her effort during the routine.
“This happened to her once last year at the Olympic Qualification Tournament when competing her duet,” an US spokeswoman added.
On Friday, Shah said the doctors were still searching for a definitive explanation.
“We are going to look into what happened and do some additional extensive programmes with consultants and make another determination as to an actual cause,” Shah said.
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