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LONDON, England, July 30. USA’s Missy Franklin, who had a breakout meet last year in Shanghai, is realizing her potential at the 2012 London Olympics. After earning her first medal in relay duty in the 400-meter freestyle relay, she picked up her first Olympic gold medal with a win in the 100 back this evening.
Less than 20 minutes after squeaking into the women’s 200 free finale with an eighth-place finish, Franklin dominated the field in the women’s 100 back with a 58.33. That time crushed her American record of 58.85 set at the 2012 U.S. Trials in Omaha last month, and shot her to fourth all time in the event’s history. She kept the title in the U.S. family as well, defending Natalie Coughlin’s wins from 2004 and 2008. The U.S. has now won 11 gold medals in the events history.
“I am so happy. I knew it was going to be difficult. I had a blast out there tonight,” Franklin said. “I got so much advice from the team [on doubling the 200 free/100 back tonight]. (One) Coach told me to take it one event at a time and (one) coach told me to relax. It is exceeding the expectations one hundred billion times over! I couldn’t be happier. I knew I just had to give it everything I had.”
Australia’s Emily Seebohm, who had owned the earlier qualifying heats, including an Olympic record of 58.23 during prelims, turned first at the 50 with a 28.57 but faded to second in 58.68. The silver is her second medal in as many tries at this meet, having been part of the 400 free relay victory on the first day. She now has three Olympic medals in her career, having been a part of the victorious 400 medley relay in 2008. Seebohm became the first Australian medalist in the event since Judy-Joy Davies took bronze in 1948.
Japan’s Aya Terakawa, the veteran of the finale at 27 years old, earned bronze in 58.83 as she broke the 59-second barrier for the first time. She moved to sixth all time in the event’s history. The medal is her first in Olympic competition, after placing eighth in the 200 back at the 2004 Athens Games and not competing in Beijing.
“I knew the last 15 meters was the key,” Terakawa said of her finish. “I was told I had to touch the end even if I broke my fingers.”
Russia’s Anastasia Zueva, the second-fastest swimmer all time with a techsuit era 58.18, placed fourth in 59.00, while world-record holder Gemma Spofforth (58.12 in 2009), placed fifth in 59.20. China’s Zhao Jing (59.23), Australia’s Belinda Hocking (59.29) and China’s Fu Yuanhui (1:00.50) completed the finale.
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