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BARCELONA, Spain, August 1. IT’s been a long time coming, but finally the world will get to see the last two world-record holders in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke duel in a significant finale at the FINA World Championships.
Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta, the two-time defending champion in this event, and reigning 2012 London Olympic gold medalist, could make it the fourth straight major international meet with the title. That’s Kosuke Kitajima levels of dominance in breaststroke.
Gyurta clocked a smooth 2:08.50 to win semifinal two tonight, and will be looking to take down Akihiro Yamaguchi’s world record of 2:07.01 set last September. At the London Olympiad, Gyurta had originally posted a world record time of 2:07.28 to unify the world record and textile best, bettering Christian Sprenger’s 2:07.31 from 2009.
However, it only stood a few months until Yamaguchi shocked the world with an epic summer as the youngster closed out his long course season of 2012 with the global standard at the Japanese National Sports Festival. The big question has been whether Yamaguchi could translate that type of a low-pressure time on the big stage, and he gave himself a chance at greatness with a seventh-seeded time of 2:10.00 tonight.
Germany’s Marco Koch clocked in with a strong time of his own for the second seed in 2:08.61, while Great Britain’s Andrew Willis touched third in 2:09.11.
Russia’s Viatcheslav Sinkevich (2:09.47), Great Britain’s Michael Jamieson (2:09.62), Finland’s Matti Mattsson (2:09.96) and Japan’s Ryo Tateishi (2:10.01) also made the finale.
USA’s Kevin Cordes missed the top eight by just one spot after his aggressive tactics wound up hurting him in the end. He went out under world record pace at the 100 with a 1:01.18 split, before fading to ninth overall in 2:10.03.