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LONDON, England, August 1. TEAM USA went 1-2 in qualifying in the men's 200-meter backstroke with Tyler Clary leading the way in the distance dorsal at the 2012 London Olympics.
In heat three of five, Clary turned in one of five 1:56 performances of the morning with a 1:56.24 to lead the way. Clary, who achieved his dream of making the Olympic team this year, placed fifth in the 200 fly earlier this week. He's won three international medals in Worlds competition, but is vying for his first Olympic hardware.
“I was up a little late, but I was still running on a high after my first Olympic final (the men's 200m butterfly),” Clary said. “I'm pleased with how the swim went, I'm starting to feel more like myself again and not the nervous wreck I was the last couple of days. Part of it was nerves because of this being the first time since 2009 I'd been at a worldwide level final in the 200m fly, so that made things a little nerve-wracking. It was my first Olympic final, I feel that's pretty normal for anyone to be nervous at their first Olympic final.”
Clary was also asked about Michael Phelps winning his 19th Olympic medal last night.
“He's won more medals than any Olympian in history, that should speak for itself,” Clary said. “This guy's is an incredible athlete. I thought it was pretty cool waking up this morning to see that he had gotten a tweet from President Obama, that's pretty sweet.”
Defending champion Ryan Lochte is looking to become the first person to successfully defend the 200 back gold medal since Roland Matthes won in 1968 and 1972. He qualified second in 1:56.36. Should he medal in the event, it would move him into double-digits for Olympic medals. Currently, he has nine on his resume.
China's Zhang Fenglin qualified third in 1:56.71 in his only event of the meet. He took fourth in this event at the 2011 World Championships, and hopes to become China's first medalist in the event.
“It was OK, it was my normal performance,” Zhang said.
Japan's Ryosuke Irie posted the fourth-fastest time with a 1:56.81. He won his first Olympic medal with a bronze in the 100 back earlier this week, and is looking for another medal in the longer distance event.
“It was a morning race so I was quite sleepy, but I did quite well,” Irie said. “I will swim faster in the semis to make good distance between myself and the other swimmers.”
Hungary's Gabor Balog surprised with a fifth-place time of 1:56.98 from out of heat two. Balog did not make semis in the event in 2008, and his top finish at an elite-level meet is eighth in the event at the 2012 European Championships, where he turned in a 1:58.74.
Germany's Jan-Philip Glania (1:57.01), The Netherlands' Nick Driebergen (1:57.29) and Israel's Yakov Toumarkin (1:57.33) placed sixth through eighth.
Hungary's Peter Bernek (1:57.52), Australia's Mitch Larkin (1:57.53), Canada's Tobias Oriwol (1:58.06), Germany's Yannick Lebherz (1:58.07), Japan's Kazuki Watanabe (1:58.17), Poland's Radoslaw Kawecki (1:58.18), Colombia's Omar Pinzon Garcia (1:58.20) and Brazil's Leonardo Deus (1:58.22) also made semis.
Defending bronze medalist Arkady Vyatchanin missed the chance to get to the podium again with a 17th-place 1:58.69, while Turkey's Derya Buyukuncu posted a 33rd-place 2:01.68 in his amazing sixth Olympic appearance.
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