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SHANGHAI, China, July 26. IN what was entirely pleasing to the host nation, China's Zhao Jing touched out Russia's Anastasia Zueva by the slimmest of margins for the world title in the women's 100 back at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
Zhao clipped Zueva, 59.05 to 59.06, as both threatened Zhao's textile best effort of 58.94 from last October. Zhao became the first Chinese woman to win the world title in the event since He Cihong topped the podium in 1994. The top two times tonight stand 18th and 19th in the all-time performances list.
"The gold medal has significant meaning to me," Zhao said. "It is definitely a huge boost to my confidence in the build-up to the London Olympic Games. I didn't swim at my full strength in the semifinal. And after the semi, my coach and I studied video replays carefully and he asked to me pay more attention to details."
Zueva claimed her second straight silver medal with her effort after taking second to Great Britain's Gemma Spofforth back in 2009. Spofforth missed the semifinal round this year due to a bout with food poisoning.
"I am happy with the result, but I just lost by 0.01 sec," Zueva said. "I made a mistake at the start."
USA's Natalie Coughlin earned her 17th career world championships medal, the all-time record, with a third-place 59.15.
"It's my tendency to go out quick," Coughlin said. "The last 10m I felt very good. It's my best time since my break from Beijing (Olympics). I am satisfied with today's performance. Definitely I can go faster. Next year will be quite promising. Oh Gosh! I knew the Chinese were very, very strong. I wasn't surprised (at Zhao's swim)."
Australia's Emily Seebohm (59.21), Japan's Aya Terakawa (59.35), Australia's Belinda Hocking (59.53), Great Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds (59.89) and Canada's Sinead Russell (1:00.20) rounded out the championship finale.