By Josh Jeffrey
DAEGU, South Korea, August 28. TWO new Universiade records and a number of world-class performances highlighted this evening's competition in Daegu at the World University Games.
The men's 400m freestyle final was a battle to the finish between Russian distance prodigy Yuri Prilukov, and the USA's Justin Mortimer. Prilukov led through the 250m mark, when Mortimer took over at the turn.
Hanging back, Prilukov let Mortimer lead for the next 100 meters until he threw down a final 50 of 26.80 to seal the win. Prilukov took gold in 3:52.27, with Mortimer nearly a half second behind for silver at 3:52.73. Bronze went to Romania's Dragos Coman in 3:53.26.
The women's 400 individual medley final could as well have been called the Yana Klochkova Show, as she dominated from the first 50 to the final turn. When she realized she had the race in the bag, Yana coasted home in 32.94 to finish with a time of 4:45.01, world class by any standard, but somewhat lackluster for Yana after her 200 IM performance. Second place went to Japan's Maiko Fujino in 4:48.44, while Great Britain's Rebecca Cooke took a surprise bronze in 4:48.59, blistering to a 30.35 on the final 50 to move past Fujino's teammate Sawami Fujita.
Andrii Serdinov of Ukraine, briefly the world record-holder in the 100m butterfly and bronze medalist at the recent World Championships, showed the field how to win in style, taking his pet event from the first stroke in a blazing 51.99, breaking the Universiade record he set in preliminaries (52.50). Second place finisher Evgueni Korotishkin of Russia was nearly a full second back at 52.94. Bronze went to Japan's Ryo Takayasu in 53.42.
Ilona Hlavacova of the Czech Republic made it a double in the backstrokes when she took the 100m gold today to go with the 50m gold earlier in the week. Hlavacova turned in a speedy 29.56, nearly a second ahead of the rest of the field, only to have her lead diminish as she tired in the final strokes. Hlavacova touched at 1:01.74 for gold, while Japanese backstrokers swept the silver and bronze, with Reiko Nakamura (1:02.18), and Aya Terakawa (1:02.43). The USA's Beth Botsford, fourth at the 50, finished fourth at the wall in 1:02.55.
China's Ouyang Kunpeng has been the meet's outstanding male backstroker, and he proved it once again with a speedy win in the 100m event. Ouyang turned just behind the USA's Dan Westcott at the 50, 27.02 to 26.93, but made sure that he wouldn't be defeated at the touch as he was in the 50m event, hitting the pads for the win at 54.99. Westcott was second in 55.35, while Volodyrur Nikolaychuk of Russia took bronze at 55.70.
Ukraine's Yana Klochkova has apparently been toying with a new event, which should send shivers up the spines of 200m freestylers, if tonight's race is any indication of things to come. Leading through the first 150 with France's Solenne Figues just inches behind, Yana switched into turbo with a final 50 of 29.81 to Figues' 30.31, touching at 1:59.03 for a new Universiade record. Figues was also under 2:00, touching in 1:59.66 for silver. China's Jiaying Pang took bronze in 2:00.76.
The men's 800m freestyle relay was an exciting game of tug-of-war between the US and Russia. Joe Bruckart got the Americans off to a good start with a 1:50.11 to Andrei Kaoralov's 1:50.36, but both middle legs by US swimmers were a few tenths slower than their Russian counterparts', giving the Russians a slight two-tenth lead entering the anchor leg. Though Peter Vanderkaay of the US unleashed a 1:48.78, Russia's distance champ Yuri Prilukov responded to the challenge, uncorking a 1:47.97 to seal a win for Russia.
Their time of 7:19.63 was nearly a second ahead of the USA for silver at 7:20.67. Italy, after getting off to a slow start, nearly caught Vanderkaay at the finish, touching in 7:20.92 for bronze.
Action continues tomorrow evening in Daegu.