Connect with Us:  

M50back: Title Goes Back To Tancock

Jul 31, 2011  - Craig Lord

Day 8 finals, Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai

Men's 50m backstroke

Liam Tancock (GBR) became the first man ever to retain the backstroke dash crown with a 24.50 blast that kept him 0.07sec ahead of the world No 1 of last year, Camille Lacourt (FRA), and former champion from 2007, Gergard Zandberg (RSA), on 24.66.

Tancock blasted off his blocks to gain an edge over his rivals that he refused to surrender. The Loughborough charge of coach Ben Titley maintained stroke even as French European champion ahead of him last year on an otherworldly 24.07, Camille Lacourt, by 0.07sec, with Gerhard Zandberg, the South African winner of the 2007 title before Tancock's rise, a further 0.09sec away. 

Tancock, at 6ft an average of 7in shorter than those he shared the podium with, said: "On the day it's who gets out there, who gets the best start and who touches the wall first and today it was my turn. Brilliant. I loved it. I knew it was good, it felt pretty good, you know when you are having a good race … but you've seen those guys on the podium next to me. They are about a foot taller and a lot longer arms so you never quite know what they are going to do. But I wanted it badly and it was my time tonight. It's special."

All his preparation was geared to the 100m that he will have to race at London 2012 next year but there was no taking away the thrill of the finding yourself a world champion once more. "What can I say? 2009 I became world champion and it was one of those special moments, standing on the podium, listening to the national anthem, waving to the crowd, my team-mates. To do it again two years later, and retain the title, against tough opposition...," said Tancock leaving the thought in limbo, confident we knew precisely what he meant.

The result:

  • 1. Liam Tancock, Britain, 24.50
  • 2. Camille Lacourt, France, 24.57. 
  • 3. Gerhard Zandberg, South Africa, 24.66. 
  • 4. Faber Wildeboer, Spain, 24.82. 
  • 5. David Plummer, United States, 24.92. 
  • 6 (tie). Nicholas Thoman, United States, Guy Barnea, Israel, 25.01. 
  • 8. Flori Lang, Switzerland, 25.15.

History in the making:


  • WR (all suits): 24.04 Liam Tancock (GBR) Rome, August 1, 2009
  • WR (textile):   24.07 Camille Lacourt (FRA) Budapest, August 12, 2010 

World-class stats:

  • World Record wins: Thomas Rupprath (GER), 2003; Liam Tancock (GBR), 2009
  • Title retained: Tancock in 2011
  • Biggest margin: Gerhard Zandberg (RSA) beat Rupprath by 0.22sec in 2007; 
  • Closest shave: Aristeidis Grigoriadis (GRE) beat Matt Welsh (AUS) by 0.04sec in 2005

From the archive:

Thomas Rupprath, world record holder over 50m backstroke from 2003 until 2008, did not miss the podium at world or European level between 2002 and 2007, including a gold and two silvers at world titles. In December 2008, he and teammate Helge Meeuw wore briefs in the final of the 50m at the European short-course showcase, could not streamline like bodysuited rivals and finished 5th and 8th. They raced under protest, the suits their federation allowed them to wear not as “fast” as the 100% non-textile suits worn by rivals.

In 2008 and 2009 at a time when non-textile suits were allowed, times changed dramatically in comparison to the 2007 world titles in Melbourne, where Gerhard Zandberg (RSA) emerged champion in 24.98. In 2009, Liam Tancock (GBR) claim the crown in a world record of 24.04, and in between his time and Zandberg's from 2007 22 other men filled the void in 2008 and 2009. In 2010, Camille Lacourt (FRA) was the only man in the world who got close to Tancock on the clock, raising hope for the new textile era with a 24.07sec blast at the European Championships.