Swimming: Haughey eyes more gold as 2018 standout Ikee pulls out

AFP , Tuesday 26 Sep 2023

Olympic and world silver medallist Siobhan Haughey breezed into the Asian Games 100m freestyle final on Tuesday as she looks to back up her dominant 200m swim, but Japan's Rikako Ikee was a no-show.

Siobhan Haughey
Winner Hong Kong's Siobhan Haughey poses with her medal after competing in the final of the women's 200m freestyle swimming event during the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, in China's eastern Zhejiang province on September 25, 2023. Photo: AFP


Hong Kong's Haughey was exceptional in beating the pack by nearly two seconds en route to 200m gold on Monday in Hangzhou, shattering an Asian Games record that had stood since 2010.

She topped the timesheets into Tuesday night's final in 54.27secs, ahead of China's Yang Junxuan and Kayla Sanchez of the Philippines.

Haughey will be looking to better her own Asian record of 52.27 in the final, set when she came second to Australian superstar Emma McKeon at the Tokyo Olympics.

She swam 52.49 at the worlds in July to finish runner-up to Australian Mollie O'Callaghan.

But Asian Games defending champion Ikee will not be challenging her.

The Japanese swimmer had been scheduled to race but the standout performer at the last Asian Games, where she won six golds, failed to start.

She was part of the Japan team that finished a distant second to China in the 4x100m freestyle relay on Sunday, but said afterwards she had a cough and runny nose.

"I feel like I have to be smart and manage what I have in the tank right now," she told reporters then. "I don't think it's going to do me any good by forcing myself out there."

Ikee is also scheduled to race the 50m freestyle and 50 and 100 butterfly.

She was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2019, soon after her Asian Games heroics.

She returned to take part in the pandemic-delayed 2021 Tokyo Olympics in the relays but has struggled in individual races since.

Like Haughey, China's Wang Shun is aiming to bag a double after his stunning swim in the 200 medley.

The Olympic champion's 1:54.62 not only shredded the Asian record but made him the third-fastest man in history behind only the legendary Michael Phelps and fellow American Ryan Lochte.

But he will have a fight on his hands in the 400 medley against three-time world champion Daiya Seto of Japan.

Asiad defending champion Seto, who won the world title in 2013, 2015 and 2019, topped their heat in 4:19.69, but Wang was lurking a second behind.

Chinese world bronze medallist Peng Xuwei clocked 2:09.67 in the women's 200m backstroke heats as she looks to better her third place-finish at the last Asiad. Defending champion Liu Yaxin was fourth fastest.

Li Bingjie, who has already bagged 1500m gold and 200m silver, posted 4:13.10 in the women's 400m freestyle heats as she aims to claim a title she narrowly missed in 2018.

China have won 11 of the 14 swimming titles so far.

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