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BARCELONA, Spain, July 31. CHINA’s Fu Yuanhui is definitely on pace to reclaim the sprint backstroke title for her native country after popping a strong time in the women’s 50-meter backstroke semifinals at the FINA World Championships.
Fu rocketed to a 27.40 in the second semifinal, just off her amazing textile best of 27.22 from earlier this year at the Chinese Nationals. That performance stands as the second fastest all time behind only Zhao Jing’s world record of 27.06 set during the 2009 World Championships at the end of the techsuit era.
Fu is now the heir apparent for Zhao, as China looks to reclaim the world title after missing the podium in 2011 when Anastasia Zueva won gold in 27.79.
Japan’s Aya Terakawa finished well behind with a second-place time of 27.70 headed into the finale, and could be looking at a second consecutive runner-up finish after taking second to Zueva.
Notably, 2011 bronze medalist Missy Franklin scratched semis tonight to focus on winning her third gold medal of the meet with a 200 free victory over two-time defending champion Federica Pellegrini.
Spain’s Mercedes Peris Minguet (27.71), Zhao (27.87), Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros (27.89), USA’s Rachel Bootsma (27.93), Great Britain’s Lauren Quigley (28.02) and Great Britain’s Georgia Davies (28.05) also made the finale of the sprint backstroke event.
While Fu is almost assured of the title, it looks like second and third place spots on the podium are wide open. Also, look for Bootsma to challenge her American record of 27.68 from U.S. Nationals a month ago.