Commonwealth Games Day Two Finals: Jones Upsets Edmistone to Take 50 Breaststroke; Henry Impressive in Semifinal Win Over Lenton

By Stephen J. Thomas

MELBOURNE, Australia, March 17. THAT breaststroke sensation Leisel Jones proved tonight she has learned much about how to race these past twelve months. And now it would seem, even how to sprint. It is rare to find a swimmer these days that can get to the top of the pile across the 50-100-200 distances. Today, Jones moved closer to such a unique position when she out-raced the world record-holder in the 50 breaststroke.

Jones, not renowned for her fast starts, flew off the blocks tonight and was challenging world record-holder Jade Edmistone down the middle of the pool. Under the flags it was Edmistone, who has been in sensational form of late, that appeared to tighten, sensing the close proximity of Jones. The world-record holder in the 100 and 200 breast events, Jones got to the wall first in a new PR 30.55, elevating her to second fastest performer over the sprint distance. Edmistone, who swam faster in both her prelim swims yesterday – 30.51 and 30.54 – finished with the silver in 30.84. Aussie Tarnee White was third (31.26) and the defending title-holder Zoe Baker, a former Brit now a Kiwi, was in the mix early but fell away to finish fourth (31.45).

The Aussie women were also expected to take the trifecta in the 50 fly and this was almost the case. World champion Danni Miatke took the gold in a Games record of 26.43 from Jessicah Schipper (26.65) but the third Aussie Alice Mills tied for the bronze with Springbok Lize-Mari Retief (26.78).

England’s Matthew Clay clocked a PR of 25.04 in the 50 backstroke to edge out his more favoured countryman, the World Champs bronze medalist, Liam Tancock (25.10) and South African Johannes Zandberg (25.16) in a very tight race. Tancock had come within .04 of German Thomas Rupprath’s world record in the semifinals last night with a time of 24.80 – the second fastest time in history – but tonight in the sprint finish it was all about winning and Clay did what was needed to claim the gold. Aussie veteran and defending titleholder Matt Welsh finished fourth in 25.34.

In the absence of the three leading Aussies in world record-holder Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett and Nicholas Sprenger, the English duo of Ross Davenport and Simon Burnett went 1-2 in the 200 freestyle, which saw the top four swimmers within .15 at the wall. Canadian Brent Hayden led at the 100 from Burnett and South African Ryk Neethling. Then Davenport, the fastest qualifier, moved up through the field at the 150 to challenge Hayden with Burnett picking up the pace. Davenport just got there first in 1:47.29 from Burnett (1:47.38) and Hayden (1:47.41). Canada's Rick Say was fourth (1:47.44). Scott David Carry failed to add to his gold in the 400 last night, finishing fifth (1:48.13) with Ryk Neethling dropping away disappointingly to finish sixth (1:48.77), well outside his 1:46.63 in taking the silver in Montreal last year.

In the semifinals:

Women’s 100m freestyle

The reigning Olympic and world champion Jodie Henry may have been “only half fit” at the Aussie Champs back in January when Libby Lenton powered away to take her world record in this event in 53.42. Look out for Henry in the final because tonight she looked in better form than she did in Athens when she broke Lenton’s global standard and claimed Olympic gold.

After the prelims this morning when she clocked a Games record of 54.52, Henry joked that with the level of competition among the Aussie girls, pretty soon they would be swimming under 54 seconds. In tonight’s second semifinal she was matched with Lenton. Lenton, as is her way, went out faster in 25.84 – just outside her WR split – with Henry comfortable in 26.25. Then out of the turn Henry unleashed some impressive power, accelerating past Lenton as though she was stationary. Henry looked to ease into the wall to record an impressive 54.11 with Lenton touching in 54.68. The third Aussie, Alice Mills, took the other semi in 55.08 having only swum in the final of the 50 fly a short while beforehand. Perhaps Lenton eased off in the second lap but one thing is certain this will be a great race tomorrow.

Men’s 50m butterfly

South African world-record holder Roland Schoeman looks the odds-on favorite to take the gold, clocking a Games record 23.14 and not far outside his global standard of 22.96. Aussie veteran Michael Klim was next in 23.80 – just .02 outside his PR set way back at the Goodwill Games in 2001. Young Auburn-based Aussie Matt Targett continued to improve with a 23.86. Matt Welsh posted 23.97 to be the only other swimmer under 24 seconds.

Men’s 100m breaststroke

England’s World Champs finalist Chris Cook set a new Games record of 1:00.94 to be fastest qualifier with Aussie record-holder Brenton Rickard posting the second-fastest time of 1:01.40, ahead of Scott Dickens of Canada (1:01.69). England’s Darren Mew and James Gibson will also compete in their second consecutive Commonwealth Games final in this event. Aussie Jim Piper was DQ’ed, and not for the first time in a major meet.

Women’s 100m backstroke

Aussie Sophie Edington (1:01.30) looked very good in the water to record the fastest qualifier ahead of her teammate Giaan Rooney (1:01.68). England’s 200 freestyle bronze medalist Mel Marshall (1:01.91) was next best. Both Kiwi Hannah McLean (1:02.46) and Aussie record-holder Tayliah Zimmer (1:02.48) also made it through to the final.

FINAL RESULTS

Men’s 50m backstroke
1. CLAY Matthew 25.04
2. TANCOCK Liam 25.10
3. ZANDBERG Johannes 25.16
4. WELSH Matthew 25.34
5. LIM Keng Liat 25.77
6. ROSE Matthew 26.05
6. LAUTERSTEIN Andrew 26.05
8. TALBOT Scott 26.33

Women’s 50m breaststroke
1. JONES Leisel 30.55
2. EDMISTONE Jade 30.84
3. WHITE Tarnee 31.26
4. BAKER Zoe 31.45
5. HAYWOOD Kate 31.84
6. VAN BILJON Suzaan 31.90
7. VAN OOSTEN Lauren 32.13
8. TYNAN Lowri 32.79

Women’s 50m butterfly
1. MIATKE Danni 26.43 GR
2. SCHIPPER Jessicah 26.65
3. MILLS Alice 26.78
3. RETIEF Lize-Mari 26.78
5. TAO Li 27.06
6. LOOTS Amanda 27.62
7. CHELLINGWORTH Nichola 27.67
8. SAUMUR Genevieve 27.81

Men’s 200m freestyle
1. DAVENPORT Ross 1:47.29
2. BURNETT Simon 1:47.38
3. HAYDEN Brent 1:47.41
4. SAY Richard 1:47.44
5. CARRY David 1:48.13
6. NEETHLING Ryk 1:48.77
7. HUNTER Andrew 1:49.86
8. FFROST Nicholas 1:50.00

Women's 50m EAD Freestyle Final
1. DU TOIT Natalie RSA 29.27
2. POLINARIO Anne CAN 28.63
3. WILLIAMS Annabelle AUS 30.25
4. GRANDMAISON Valerie CAN 28.32
5. LEWIS Katrina AUS 29.64
6. GOTELL Chelsey CAN 29.06
7. WATT Prudence AUS 29.07
8. HENRY Rhiannon WAL 29.43

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