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Golden Girl Belmonte At The Double

Dec 15, 2010  - Craig Lord

Dubai, world short-course championships, day 1 finals:

Mireia Belmonte (ESP) emerged as the star of the show on day one of the world s/c championships here in Dubai after winning two crowns in just over an hour, both in championship records, the first in 2:03.59 in the 200m butterfly, the second in 4:24.21 in the 400m medley. Asked poolside how she had managed it, Belmonte giggled: "I don't know." 

Women's 400m medley

Just as she had built momentum on her way to victory over 200m butterfly an hour earlier, Mireia Belmonte, whose new coach at Sabadell in Barcelona is Frenchman Fred Vergnoux, kept her nerve as Chinese teenagers Ye Shiwen and Li Xuanxu ploughed ahead on butterfly and backstroke before striking back with a vengeance on breaststroke. Ye tried hard to get back in contention for gold on freestyle but the damage had been done with a 1:13.51 breaststroke split that was a league apart from anything anyone else in the final could muster. 

Belmonte claimed her second crown and championship record of the day in 4:24.21, Ye, just 14, claiming silver in 4:24.55, those two efforts by far the swiftest ever by swimmers wearing textile suits even though the world records towers above like a Dubai skyscraper three seconds nearer the clouds.  The bronze went to Li in 4:29.05, which locked out fast-finishing European and Commonwealth champion Hannah Miley (GBR) by 0.72sec. The leaders had entered the race with textile bests of 4:28.67 for Ye Shiwen and 4:28.77 for Belmonte.

The result:

  • Mireia Belmonte (ESP)
  • 1:01.76; 2:11.00; 3:24.51; 4:24.21
  • Ye Shiwen (CHN) 
  • 1:02.01; 2:08.65; 3:25.52; 4:24.55
  • Li Xuanxu (CHN)
  • 1:01.97; 2:09.22; 3:27.20; 4:29.05
  • Hannah Miley (GBR) 4:29.77 (1:03.33; 2:11.29; 3:28.14)
  • Zsuzsanna Jakabos (HUN) 4:30.44
  • Ariana Kukors (USA) 4:31.01
  • Barbora Zavadova (CZE) 4:35.01
  • Maiko Jujino (JPN) 4:36.16

The race may have reminded Miley, a Scot who leads the world long-course on the clock this year, that at a little over 50kg she is not built for the rough and tumble turns of short-course swimming, what with waves rebounding off the likes of Ye Shiwen and Li Xuanxu, teenagers built to punch well above their age, and apt sink the smooth skills that Miley put on full show this year on her way to long-course European and Commonwealth glory.

History in the making:

World s/c Podiums

  • 2010: 4:24.21; 4:24.55; 4:29.05
  • 2008: 4:26.52; 4:27.27; 4:27.55
  • 2006: 4:34.28; 4:35.54; 4:35.54 (joint silver) 

Most world titles in this event:  3

  • Yana Klochkova (UKR) 1999,00,02

Records (TB = best ever in a textile suit)

  • WR: 4:21.04 Julia Smit (USA) 18.12.09
  • TB: 4:24.21 Mireia Belmonte (ESP) 15.12.10

Most world records in this event (since specific 25m records began in 1991): 1 (multiple)

All-time textile rankings top 5:

  • 4:24.21 Belmonte Dubai 2010 
  • 4:25.55 Ye Shiwen Dubai 2010
  • 4:27.70 Smit 2010
  • 4:27.83 Klochkova 2002
  • 4:29.00 Dai Guohong 1993

From the archive:  

Yana Klochkova’s three victories said much about the versatility of Ukraine's national aquatic hero: it mattered little what the challenge, which size of pool it was in or how much pressure she felt under, Klochkova performed to the highest of standards - and almost always won. Double Olympic medley champion in both 2000 and 2004, 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.