Tokyo Vision: Katinka Hosszu Looking to Solidify Legacy With 200 IM Gold

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Hungary's Katinka Hosszu - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

Tokyo Vision: Katinka Hosszu Looking to Solidify Legacy With 200 IM Gold

Had the COVID-19 pandemic not shaken the world, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo would be unfolding right now, titles and podium finishes earned by the finest athletes from around the world. Instead, we are in a competition lull and hopeful that the Games will be held next summer, with COVID-19 neutralized.

As we reach the nine days over which the swimming competition of a delayed Olympiad would have taken place, Swimming World is taking a glimpse at what might have unfolded this summer, had the Olympics not been postponed. Following the official schedule, we offer our virtual fields of eight finalists for each event and take a brief look at how the racing might have panned out until a few strokes away from decision and a result that will not be known until July/August 2021.

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Event: Women’s 200 Individual Medley
World Record: Katinka Hosszu, HUN (2015) – 2:06.12

Historical Note #1: This event was introduced in 1968 as American Claudia Kolb took the inaugural gold medal in 2:24.7, leading a 1-2-3 with Americans Susan Pedersen and Jan Henne. It was discontinued in 1976 & 1980 but has been contested at every Olympics since 1984.

Historical Note #2: The Ukraine’s Yana Klochkova is the only swimmer to successfully defend her Olympic title in this event as she won in Sydney in 2000 at 2:10.68, and again in Athens in 2004 at 2:11.14.

Virtual Vision

The Finalists (Listed Alphabetically)

  • Madisyn Cox, United States
  • Katinka Hosszu, Hungary
  • Kim Seoyeong, Korea
  • Melanie Margalis, United States
  • Yui Ohashi, Japan
  • Rika Omoto, Japan
  • Sydney Pickrem, Canada
  • Ye Shiwen, China

The Race

There has not been any swimmer in the world better at the individual medley races the last seven years than Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu. Since finishing a dismal eighth place at the 2012 Olympic Games, Hosszu has won world titles in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019, along with setting a world record in 2015, and claiming an Olympic gold in 2016. Hosszu has had one blip – 2018, when she went through a very public breakup with her coach and husband, Shane Tusup, and only managed ninth in the world rankings, although she still won a European title.

Hosszu has been unbeatable, and has not lost a major final in this race in eight years. During the year that Hosszu was down in 2018, Japan’s Yui Ohashi had the top time in the world and she will hear the cheers from the capacity crowd. Japan has never won a medal in the women’s 200 IM at the Olympics, and with Ohashi and Rika Omoto, the host country has two medal favorites to support.

Hosszu jumps to the lead on the butterfly leg, using her strong front half to her advantage. Her backstroke tempo is high, and with the majority of the field being strong in the second half, she and Korea’s Kim Seoyeong are leading the field after backstroke.

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Canada’s Sydney Pickrem. Photo Courtesy: Becca Wyant

As the field flipped to breaststroke, the crowd urged on Ohashi and Omoto, shouting at every stroke, while Americans Melanie Margalis and Madisyn Cox and Canadian Sydney Pickrem made moves to get within medal contention. China’s Ye Shiwen, who was last summer’s silver medalist in the 200 IM at Worlds, also made a move on the breaststroke leg as she tried to regain her gold medal from 2012 when she was just 16.

Turning over to the freestyle leg, Hosszu was within range winning back-to-back gold medals, which would cement her legacy as one of the greatest IM’ers ever. Ye is trying to win China’s third gold medal in the event, as she has re-emerged as a medal favorite after finishing eighth in 2016.

Margalis is hoping to win her first individual Olympic medal after finishing fourth at the last two Worlds and the 2016 Olympics. The U.S. has won three straight bronzes and hasn’t won gold since Tracy Caulkins in 1984. Ohashi is racing to win Japan’s first medal in the 200 IM and Pickrem is hoping to win Canada’s first medal since Marianne Limpert’s silver in 1996.

Will Hosszu reign supreme and repeat, or will one of her rivals out-touch her and manage one of the biggest upsets of the Games?

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