Miley Mashes Home Hopes In 400IM
Aug 9, 2010 - Craig Lord
European Championships, Budapest, Day 1 finals:
400m medley women:
Britain's Hannah Miley swept past world champion Katinka Hosszu (HUN) on breaststroke and never looked back on her way to a stunning 4:33.09 victory, the home hope second in 4:36.43. Miley's time was just 0.2sec away from the pre-shiny suit world record held by Katie Hoff (USA).
The bronze also went to the hosts, Zsuzsanna Jakabos on 4:37.92, just holding off a challenge from Anja Klinar (SLO), on 4:38.13. The medals were presented by an all-0time great of the sport, legendary Krisztina Egerszegi, winner of five solo gold medals at the Olympic Games, including, in 1992, the 400 IM.
Miley was stunned by her win, at first clasping her hands over her open mouth, then punching the air with a victory salute. On the podium, the Scot, coached by her father Patrick in Garioch, Aberdeenshire, wiped away a tear. This had been a long time coming.
Miley made her way through the ranks from 5th after 'fly on 1:03.50, 1.53sec down on Hosszu at the helm, to 3rd, behind the world champion and teammate Jakabos after backstroke, on 2:13.05 to 2:11.69 for the leader. The first length of breaststroke decided the outcome: Hosszu clocked 39.63, Miley 38.92 to take a 0.18sec lead. By the last turn, the Scot had extended her lead to a killer 1.79. Job done. She delivered gold for Britain 3.34sec ahead of the Hungarian world champion who had been tipped by a training partner to challenge Stephanie Rice's world mark of 4:29.45. Ludicrous expectation. She raced 10kg heavier than Miley. The suits count - not the fault of swimmers - but there is no point in denying it.
In a shiny suit of the kind now banned, Miley had clocked 4:32.72 for 4th in the world title final won by Hosszu in 4:30.31 last summer in Rome. A year later, a new era underway, Miley was just 0.2sec away from the world record that had stood to 2007 world champion Katie Hoff (USA) before the advent of polyurethane suits in February 2008.
"I just felt brilliant," said Miley, coached by her father Patrick in Garioch, Aberdeenshire. "Dad told me to trust in what we've done to get ready for this, to relax and take it as another experience. I really enjoyed the race, it was so much fun." The time, she added was "unbelievable, unexpected", while she realised that she had now placed "massive expectation on my back" ahead of another battle, against world record holder and Olympic champion Stephanie Rice, of Australia, at the Commonwealth Games in October on the way to a home Olympics in London 2012.
Hosszu was just inside her best textile time, as were the next two swimmers home, the events of 2009 failing to stand in the way of a celebration of swimming that was not lost on an appreciative home crowd. Hosszu, back in Hungary for the past fortnight, said that the silver did not disappoint her but the time on the clock did. "I probably started the race too fast. I'm hoping to go better in the 200IM and 200 free."
Hosszu and Miley have history: in 2005 on the first occasion that they met in competition, the Hungarian won gold at the European Junior Championships, Miley, on her Britain debut, taking silver. That moment is one that has lived with Miley. "It was euphoric ... words cannot describe how excited and happy I was. It was a real turning point in my career, it made me realise that this is what I wanted to do. I want to swim. It was a significant event early in my swimming career, giving me the confidence to believe in my potential," said Miley. The two met again later that year at their first international senior selection event, the European short-course championships.
"I’ve gone so close, so many times but to win that first international title is just amazing," said Miley. "I was here in 2005 as a junior and in 2006 at this same event, and didn’t medal but tonight everything just fell in to place. To do it against the world champion in her home pool is the stuff of dreams. I knew I was in there throughout the race, it just felt so right. I've done a lot of work on my backstroke and that benefited me tonight. All that hard work that my dad (coach) and I have put into this sport has finally paid off with my first international medal. I’m just so happy to give something back and hope I've made my family proud."
Miley, who uses the Aquapacer metronomic training device invented by her father, is the first British woman to make the 400m medley podium since a teenager Sharron Davies took bronze behind two East Germans in 1977 at the age of 15. The best result Britain had enjoyed until last night in the long medley down the long years had been a silver medal for Olympic 200m breaststroke champion Anita Lonsbrough back in 1962.
Patrick Miley, coach and helicopter pilot, told SwimNews: "I'm just really emotional. She's an inspiration for me - and I'm her coach." Family and partners in the pool, Team Miley had tweaked their preparations this year to take account of the swimmer's maturity and passage into the realms of senior of some experience.
The champion describes well what her coach means to her: "There is a strong relationship between the two of us, and as an athlete I couldn't ask for anything better: he knows me best, he knows my limits and will push me if he knows I can go that little bit further. He has ensured that I can operate independently too; this is vital to the way that we work as a team.
"Parents play a huge role in my success, as I still live at home. The family environment is the best. I am studying at Robert Gordon's University in Aberdeen and enjoy the contrast and challenge that this brings. My brothers (Alastair and Joseph) are also swimmers. I guess the best way to describe us is Team Miley."
Budapest effect on all-time top 10: 0
From the archive: Yana Klochkova’s four victories in the 400m medley were preceded by silver in 1997 behind Michelle Smith de Bruin a few months before the Irish swimmer fell foul of anti-doping rules and was suspended from the sport. The most successful woman medley swimmer of all-time was rewarded beyond her medals: her run of success over 400m medley earned her what was then the biggest cash prize ever awarded for competition. LEN offered a DM100,000 “Superstar 2000” prize for any European swimmer who won the 1999 European short-course title, the 2000 European long-course title and the Olympic crown in the same event. It also gave a DM100,000 bonus if the superstar prizewinner set a world record to claim the Olympic title. Klochkova ticked all boxes.