Swimming: Tancock and Spofforth miss out on medals
British swimmers Gemma Spofforth and Liam Tancock put in brave performances but both could only manage fifth in their respective finals.
Spofforth looked well on course for a medal with 25m to swim in the 100 metres backstroke but just ran out of gas in the final strides as American sensation Missy Franklin won her first gold medal at the age of just 17.
It was a sensational effort from Franklin, who had just 15 minutes earlier qualified in eighth place for the 200m freestyle. But she showed incredible stamina to raise her game to land the gold for the Americans. Australia's Emily Seebohm, who was the favourite, led at the turn but Franklin swam an incredible last 50m to overtake her rivals to win in 58.33 seconds. Silver went to Seebohm whilst Japan's Aye Terakawa took the bronze as Spofforth faded in the final stages to finish fifth.
Spofforth in the aftermath was far from despondent though. The world record holder has had to edure some personal tragedies in the last 18 months, where three close family members died and she had subsequently contemplated suicide - thankfully, she got through her problems. Therefore it was an incredible achievement to finish so close to the world’s elite athletes after such an ordeal.
"I've always said it's the journey and not the destination,” she told the BBC. “I am disappointed but everything happens for a reason and I am just really enjoying my swimming right now.
"I have been rock-bottom but it's great to be back enjoying life again and have my passion back for life and swimming. Training with Ryan [Lochte] and working with Olympians is what really inspires me and I work with children back at home and want to inspire them."
Tancock also was very upbeat in his post 100m backstroke final interview despite finishing fifth behind American Matt Grevers, who won in an Olympic record time of 52.16. If anyone embodied the Olympic spirit it’s Tancock, who has challenged himself to improve on his finish in Rio 2016.
He said: "I went out there and gave it everything, it didn't quite come off for me but Rio is only four years away. I just love what I do, swimming is an amazing sport. It's an absolute dream to swim in a pool like this, in front of a crowd like this.
"I was walking before and saw the poster about inspiring future generations and I hope we are doing that, not just me but the whole of team GB, hopefully we will inspire the next generation of swimmers."
There was better news for Tancock’s girlfriend and Team GB compatriot Caitlin McClatchey, who finished second in her heat for the 200m freestyle, and qualified in sixth position for tomorrow night’s final. She will be going for a medal along with Hannah Miley, who qualified for the women's 200m Individual Final after finishing second in her semi-final.
Yannick Agnel caused a major upset in the 200m freestyle as the French revolution continued in the pool. They notched their third gold of the Games thus far as their star swimmer obliterated a high-class field with a devastating exhibition of swimming. Even American superstar Ryan Lochte couldn’t live with the Frenchman who looked on course for the world record at one stage but had to settle for 1:43.14 – just over a second off the record. Park Taehwan and Sun of China tied for sliver/bronze with Lochte not even making the podium. Britain’s Robbie Renwick finished a creditable sixth.
There was another shock in the women’s 100m breaststroke final as 15-year-old Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte beat Rebecca Soni and Japan's Satomi Suzuki to win an extraordinary gold medal.
Michael Phelps is on course for winning his straight Olympic gold in the 200m butterfly as he won his heat in 1:54.53 whilst Takeshi Matsuda qualified quickest for tomorrow’s final in 1:54.25.
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