Le Clos & Alshammar Lift $100,000 Prizes
Nov 13, 2011 - Craig Lord
Chad Le Clos (RSA) and Therese Alshammar (SWE) were crowned Arena World Cup champions (both winners members of Team Arena) and celebrated a $100,000 pay day each as the Tokyo round of the series brought the seven-meet circuit to a conclusion today.
Le Clos went out with a bang: a 1:43.79 victory in the 200m free 0.2sec - ahead of the man who denied him over 200m butterfly (in the race and on the clock with the world's best ever textile time) yesterday, Takeshi Matsuda (JPN) - was followed by a silver lining in the 200m medley in 1:54.72 behind a 1:53.67 victory for Kousuke Hagino (JPN). The bronze in that race went to the winner's teammate Hidemasa Sano in 1:55.94.
In the 200m freestyle, the bronze went to Syogo Hihara (JON) in 1:44.69, 0.01sec ahead of Kyle Richardson (AUS). Richardson was back later for second place in the 50m freestyle in 21.55, the winner Kenta Ito, in a sensational 21.25, a best time inside his own 21.66 and a Japanese record inside the 21.60 of sibling Makoto Ito from a season of shiny suits. Olympic 100m champion Alain Bernard (FRA) finished third in Tokyo on 21.60.
Alshammar's tour ended with an assertive 25.35 victory in the 50m butterfly, the world 50m champion's cup triumph the third $100,000 prize of her career. The Swedish sprinter's last effort also brought the curtain down on the 2011 cup series.
One of the highlights of the last session was Aya Terakawa's 56.28 victory in the 100m backstroke, the time the best in the world this season inside the 56.47 clocked by Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin (USA) last month. The race, in common with many others on the day, also highlighted one of the more troubling aspects of a tour on which 'world' often says more about the geography of events rather than the numbers of world-class swimmers from overseas who turn up to race at each round of the event. The Tokyo meet was dominated by domestic swimmers, most of them world-class but in truly global waters would not have featured in finals. The minor spoils behind Terakawa went to Rachel Goh (AUS) and Shiho Sakai (world record holder on 55.23 from a time of shiny suits) in 57.08 and 57.24 respectively.
The World Cup leaderboard:
* - Franklin, who earned a $10,000 world record bonus for her 2:00.03 200m backstroke victory in Berlin, will not accept any of the money to keep open her option of racing for a college under American 'amateur' NCAA rules that prevent athletes from earning money from their sports achievements - in the way that FINA and national federations operated until the mid to late 1980s, when reality kicked in.
Le Clos's Tour:
Le Clos won 23 gold, 10 silver, two bronze, missed the podium three times, raced 9,200m in heats and finals and produced world-class times over a wide range of events, including 200m freestyle and backstroke, 100m and 200m butterfly (the latter producing the fastest textile time ever), 100m, 200m and 400m medley.
Alshammar is now the biggest prize (financial reward given specifically for racing) earner in world swimming.
In other action in Tokyo:
Australian Robert Hurley cracked 15mins in the 1500m freestyle - but five Japanese men were ahead of him. Victory went to Youhei Takiguchi in 14:42.22, ahead of Daisuke Doi, 20 and the only man among the top 5 beyond his teenage years, on 14:51.21, 0.2sec up on Ayatsuga Hirai. Ryouta Watanabe and Yuuto Satou clocked 14:53.02 and 14:57.29 respectively, Hurley on 14:59.30.
Cate Campbell (AUS) clocked the second fastest time in the word this season to win the 100m freestyle, her 52.31 comparing to the 52.09 of Missy Franklin (USA) in Berlin. In Tokyo, silver went to Haruka Ueda, in 53.34, bronze to Yi Tang (CHN) in 53.40, comeback Olympic silver medallist Libby Trickett (AUS) on 53.80, a cheery progress from the 54.61 at which she started her race comeback in Singapore last week.
Ryo Tateishi (JPN) got a 0.05sec edge on Christian Sprenger (AUS) in the 100m breaststroke, 57.52 to 57.57 efforts keeping at bay quadruple Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima (JPN), third in 58.36, that locking out 2009 world champion Brenton Rickard (AUS), on 58.57.
Miho Takahashi led an all-home shoal of 22 Japanese swimmers in the 400m medley, her 4:29.98 effort fending off Miyu Ohtsuka, 4:31.84, and Emu Higuchi, 4:33.35. Between 4:33.45 and 4:39.88 came four more from japan, then from 4:40.91 to 4:49.51 13 more, with two over 4:50 before the sole non-Japanese swimmer in the event closed the show, Taipei's Teng Yu-Wen on 4:59.87.
Choi Hye Ra (KOR) celebrated her fourth successive 200m butterfly victory on the tour with a 2:04.16 effort that kept at bay Martina Granstroem (SWE), 2:05.76, and Natsumi Hoshi (JPN), 2:05.97.
Blair Evans (AUS) hung on for a 4:01.24 win in the 400m freestyle, her early lead of 3-5sec on the field, on 1:57.55 at 200m, maintained until 50m to go, when she swam in for the win at a pace 3sec slower than almost anyone else in the race. The explanation was not that she cruised in but that she mistimed her last turn and had to swim off the wall no push. The silver went to Melissa Ingram (NZL), in 4:02.03, bronzes to Wang Fei (CHN) in 4:04.62.
Japan cheered on two women inside 2:20 over 200m breaststroke, the touch going to Rie Kanetou in 2:19.72, 0.22sec ahead of Saya Fujimoto, the bronze claimed by Jeong Da Rae (KOR) in 2:21.55. Japanese No 1, Kanako Watanabe, on 2:19.05 this season, in Beijing this week, did not compete.
Zhao Jing was among the few visitors to deny the hosts, a 59.54 in the 100m medley a class up on the following shoal, led by Japan's Tomoko Hagiwara and Tomoyo Fukuda, on 1:00.52 and 1:00.67 respectively.
US-based Omar Pinzon (COL) followed suit when he led five Japanese home in the 200m backstroke, his 1:51.15 win 0.36sec ahead of Kazuki Watanabe, the bronze going to Yuuki Shirai in 1:51.98.
In the dash events, Leiston Pickett (AUS) got the last laugh in her tussle with Kim Hye Jin (KOR), 30.28 to 30.42 on breaststroke, Olivia Halicek in third on 30.71; Junya Koga led the way on 24.02 in a backstroke dash final that featured seven from the host nation, silver to Junya Hasegawa, 24.32, the bronze to Masafumi Yamaguchi, 24.38.