Women's Semi-Final Wrap Up Day 2
Jul 29, 2012
Olympic Games, London, Day 2, women's semi-finals
In the first semi Alia Atkinson of Jamaica took it out in lane 2 to hit the turn in 31.49, followed by Canada's Tera van Beilen swimming in lane 8. But the Americans in the middle turned it on for the second 50 and Rebecca Soni maintained solid control to touch first in 1:05.98. Breeja Larson was second in 1:06.70. Japan's Satomi Suzuki touched third in 1:07.10.
The surprise of the morning, Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania and coached by John Rudd at Plymouth Leander and College, was off the blocks like a shot in the second semi-final; the 15 year-old dominated the race unquestionably - no doubt bringing back memories for Australia's Liesel Jones, who was 15 years old when she came out of nowhere to win silver at the Sydney Games in 2000.
Meilutyte's time of 1:05.21 secures her lane 4 for tomorrow night - next best in the heat was Yuliaya Efimova (RUS) in 1:06.57, and Jones touching in 1:06.81.
The final line-up sees Meilutyte leading the field ahead of Soni and Efimova - and in another stroke of freaky finals luck a tie for 8th between Canada's van Beilen and Atkinson in 1:07.48 had to be decided by swim-off. At the end of the finals session Atkinson prevailed in 1:06.79 to van Beilen's 1:07.73.
Her start in the first semi-final left a bit to be desired, but America's darling Missy Franklin turned it around on the second 50 and is on her way to a second Olympic medal after her relay bronze. She won the first semi-final in 59.12, after a tough race with Aya Terakawa of Japan who led at the 50 but had to settle for second in 59.34. The 2009 world champion Gemma Spofforth of Britain toughed it out to come home 3rd in 59.70, good enough for a place in the race.
The second final saw Australia's Emily Seebohm go back at it with gusto - after waking up the whole house in the morning with an Olympic record swim of 58.23. She went out to do it again but was slightly off in 58.39 - just ahead of a charging Zhao Jing (CHN) - the defending world champion who got in from lane two in 59.55.
The line-up going into the final is Seebohm, Franklin, and Terakawa as top three, with Zhao challenging in 4th.
Canadian record-holder Sinead Russell was well off form in 1:00.57 (16th) - and a heartbreaking turn for her teammate Julia Wilkinson, who posted 59.91 - 3/100 better than her morning swim but off her trials best (59.85) - saw her edged out of the final to 9th place. But ever positive, she told reporters you have to "keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart".