Dubai, world short-course championships, day 1 finals:
Women's 200m butterfly
Mireia Belmonte reigned for Spain with a 2:03.59 victory after biding her time, turning seventh at half-way and fifth with 50m to go before roaring past her rivals on the way home to gold. The silver went in similar fashion to Britain's Jemma Lowe, on 2:03.94 by the close - having turned last at 50m, last at 100m, and fourth with two laps to go - the bronze going to Petra Granlund (SWE), in 2:04.38. That locked out European champion Katinka Hosszu (HUN) and Olympic champion and world record holder Liu Zige (CHN) as well as silver medallist from 2008 world titles Felicity Galvez (AUS). Belmonte rose to third on the all-time world textile-suit ranking, with Lowe moving up to fifth.
The 2:00.78 world 200m butterfly record of China's Liu Zige was never in danger. But the Olympic champion's reputation as someone who never produces the slowest last 50m of 200m butterfly battles is. For she did just that just as Belmonte and Lowe piled on the pressure in the hunt for gold.
The Spaniard and the Brit, respectively in lanes 5 and 3 either side of European champion Katinka Hosszu, of Hungary, with Liu out on the wing in lane 8, paced themselves perfectly. Liu, the world record holder, set a blistering pace of 58.20sec at the half-way mark, 2sec up on the Spaniard in seventh, with Lowe last through in 1:00.53. Over the next 50m, Liu still out in front, Belmonte and Lowe inched up to Hosszu's shoulder but turned into the last 50m still shy of the medal places, 0.06sec away from each other and a massive 1.6sec behind Liu.
Then, as Liu turned into Lowe and faded, Lowe turned into Liu, her surge drawing Belmonte with her. The Spaniard, a touch more in the tank in the closing metres, timed her finish better than the Brit but both women got past Sweden's Petra Grunland, who had taken up the lead from Liu at the last turn of the eight-length battle.
Zige's last 50m split was 34.47.
History in the making:
World s/c Podiums
Most world titles in this event: 2
Records (TB = best ever in a textile suit)
Most world records in this event (since specific 25m records began in 1991):
All-time textile rankings top 5:
From the archive:
In 1995, a would-be thief chanced his luck with the wrong woman on Copacabana in Rio. It was the eve of the world short-course championship, the venue was a fabulous temporary facility on the beach and one of Europe's top swimmers was taking a stroll along one of the world's most famous beaches to relax. The rogue tried to get his hands on the bag hanging from the shoulder of 'fly ace Mette Jacobsen (DEN). She felt the tug, turned and kung-fu kicked her assailant into submission. She was impressive in the water too: champion over 200m in 1991, she then won silver in 1995 behind an Irish swimmer heading for trouble, and bronze in 1997 before claiming the title once more in 1999. A year later, Jacobsen took silver behing future Olympic champion Otylia Jedrzejczak (POL), the Dane's run ending in 2004 with a bronze that contributed to her being the most decorated 200 'fly swimmer in European championship history.