SWC 2015, Hong Kong, Day 1: Hosszu goes hunting for gold in a near-perfect display

Swimming World Cup

Hong Kong turned on a warm welcome for Katinka Hosszu (HUN) as she returned to the pool where she set new standards last year in claiming a record number of wins in a FINA Swimming World Cup event.

Day 1 of the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2015 in Hong Kong saw Hosszu in imperious form, claiming five gold medals from six events.

The opening event of Cluster 2 (Hong Kong/Beijing/Singapore) of the FINA Swimming World Cup 2015 began with the blue-ribband Men’s 100m Freestyle which saw Katsumi Nakamura win in a time of 49.48, in a blanket finish across the pool.

The women’s finals got underway with a star-studded line-up in the 200m Freestyle that included two World Record holders Missy Franklin (USA) and Hosszu.

The Hungarian superstar went into the meet after two incredibly consistent performances in France and Russia to head the points table on 162 heading into Hong Kong. Australian Emily Seebohm came to Hong Kong in second on 111.

In the end, it was a comfortable two-and-a-half lengths win to the Iron Lady, with the exceptional Franklin touching in 1:56.38. Hosszu was back in the pool two races later in the final of the 100m Butterfly. She touched in 59.31 ahead of Shuang Li (CHN) and Hong Kong’s Hang Yu Sze.



Katinka Hosszu (HUN) following her outstanding performances on Day 1 in Hong Kong ©FINA Communication

The men’s finals on Day 1 in Hong Kong saw overall competition leader Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA) extend his lead over fellow South African Chad Le Clos, who sat out this round of the World Cup.

Van Der Burgh powered away in the 50m Breaststroke, the third event of the night, winning in a very competitive 27.23 to claim 939 FINA points.

Crowd favourite Alia Atkinson (JAM) got among the medals early on Friday night, claiming gold in the 100m Breaststroke in a time of 1:07.91.

Yuki Shirai (JPN) continued a solid night for the Asian giants with a gold medal in the Men’s 100m Backstroke. In a thrilling blanket finish to the evening’s sixth event, Shirai touched out two Australians, Ash Delaney and Josh Beaver.

Seebohm was the only swimmer able to break Hosszu’s stranglehold on the women’s finals last night, claiming the 50m Backstroke in a time of 27.90 and helping herself to 912 FINA Points in the process. Holly Barratt (AUS) completed another Aussie one-two by touching out the Iron Lady for second.

The Men’s 200m Butterfly saw Masato Sakai (JPN) claim another gold for Japan, before Hosszu got back to winning ways in the Women’s 200m Individual Medley. The World Record holder continued her hot form in the wake of the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan, where just five weeks ago she claimed the 2:06.12 record.

Event 10, the men’s 400m Freestyle, was won by Dan Smith (AUS) and immediately afterwards, sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell (AUS) shared the top of the podium in the 50m Freestyle – Cate finishing in 24.69.

It was a good night in the pool for the Australians overall, who claimed three gold. The Japanese team took home four and the Hungarians, led by Hosszu and David Verraszto (who won the Men’s 400m IM in 4:18.06), claimed six gold medals.

The Men’s 200m Breaststroke was the closest event of the evening, Akihiro Yamaguchi (JPN) 2:13.13 touching out teammate Ippei Watanabe by a hundredth of a second.

Hosszu was first off the wall in the Women’s 200m Backstroke final and the Iron Lady didn’t look back. She claimed her final gold for the night in the Women's 800m Freestyle to make it five gold and one bronze for the evening.

Her stellar efforts were appreciated by the audience but the loudest cheer of the night went up for hometown hero Geoffrey Cheah (HKG), who claimed the Men’s 50m Butterfly. The young sprinter has just returned from a lay-off and hadn’t expected to perform in his home pool. That he did sent the public stand at the Victoria Park Swimming Pool into raptures.

The 16th and final event of the evening saw Verraszto claim the Men’s 400m IM.

Ahead of Day 2, it’s all about Hosszu. We’re beginning to see, the Hungarian likes Hong Kong, and loves gold. She was the star tonight, for all but one race when Hong Kong’s Cheah lifted the roof.

QUOTES

Dan Smith (AUS), Gold, Men’s 400m Freestyle
I was a little slow tonight. I’m looking forward to competing tomorrow in the 200m Freestyle. It’s my favourite event.

Geoffrey Cheah (HKG), Gold, Men’s 50m Butterfly
I don’t quite know what to say. It feels so good. I’ve been back from a break for about three or four weeks and so I didn’t expect I would do all that well. There have been a lot of people come out tonight and it feels really amazing and it’s very humbling that I do this in Hong Kong.