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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. IT proved to be an incredibly close finale, but China’s Liu Zige kept the women’s 200-meter fly title in China for another year at the FINA World Championships.
Liu, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in the event, raced her way to her first world title in the 200 fly with a 2:04.59 for the win. That effort clipped the 2:04.78 posted by hometown favorite Mireia Belmonte Garcia as the two dueled throughout the final 150 meters of the swim. Liu actually turned fifth at the 50 with the worst start of the field, but powered to first by the 100-meter mark.
Liu is best known for her astonishing techsuit fueled world record of 2:01.81 set at the 2009 Chinese International meet in the dying days of the techsuit era. That’s nearly two seconds better than the previous top time of 2:03.41 set by Jessicah Schipper during the techsuited 2009 FINA World Championships, and may be one of those records that is never touched.
Liu previously took bronze in this event in 2011 behind Jiao Liuyang, but stood atop the podium for the first time at a World Championship meet. She fell just half-a-second off Jiao’s textile best of 2:04.06 in the process tonight. Overall, Liu’s time stands 14th all time now, while Belmonte Garcia’s performance is 17th on the all time list. Belmonte Garcia is the first Spanish swimmer ever to win a medal in this event since its inception in 1973.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu finished third in 2:05.59 for her second medal of the meet, and fifth medal all time in World Championships competition. She already won the 200-meter IM earlier this week and now has two golds and three bronzes on her resume at a long course world championships meet.
Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi (2:06.09), Hungary’s Zsuzsanna Jakabos (2:06.58), Jiao (2:06.65), USA’s Camile Adams (2:07.73) and Spain’s Judit Ignacio Sorribes (2:08.40) finished fourth through eighth to comprise the rest of the championship field.