UPDATED World Championships: Justin Ress DQ Overturned for U.S. 1-2 in 50 Back

ARMSTRONG Hunter USA Gold Medal, RESS Justin USA placed First but disqualified 50m Backstroke Men Final Swimming FINA 19th World Championships Budapest 2022 Budapest, Duna Arena 25/06/22 Photo Andrea Staccioli / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto
Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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UPDATED World Championships: Justin Ress DQ Overturned for U.S. 1-2 in 50 Back

The final night of the 2022 FINA World Championships brought a dose of controversy.

Justin Ress touched the wall first in the final of the men’s 50 backstroke, but was originally disqualified. Upon appeal, though, and after the medal ceremony, the DQ for being fully submerged at the finish was overturned.

That means that teammate Hunter Armstrong, presented gold, is dropped to silver. Bronze went to Polish teen Ksawery Masiuk in 24.49. Thomas Ceccon, who had gotten the bronze medal, finds himself fourth.

To unspool the controversy: Armstrong carried the world record of 23.71 from International Team Trials into Budapest. But Ress had set the pace throughout the meet, chasing gold. He appeared to have it Saturday, going 24.12 to get to the wall fractions ahead of his American teammate, the two from the U.S. clearly ahead of the rest of the pack.

Upon review, Ress was judged to have been fully submerged on the finish, with no part of his body above the water on a long reach into the wall. That relegated Ress, giving Armstrong the title.

“After I got disqualified, for 20 minutes I was in shock,” Ress said. “Then when I got the news that I got back the gold, that was another shock for me. By that time I relived all kind of human emotions. That was totally incredible for me and it’s hard to put into words what happened to me this evening. It’s a long journey, I think if you work hard for the things, faith will reward you at the end.”

But the U.S. lodged an appeal, and some hour later, Ress’s DQ was overturned, news that first filtered out via Armstrong’s Instagram page.

The original medal ceremony was awkward, but no more so than take two. Armstrong was emotional but not for exactly the right reasons. He looked a little stunned and teary as he walked the deck with his fellow medalists, getting a hug from Ohio State teammate and Canadian Olympian Ruslan Gaziev.

“Definitely an emotional rollercoaster,” Armstrong said on the broadcast. “I was really proud of Justin. That was a great race and we only had two hundredths of a second separating us. I would’ve rather taken second and have him with me than having to get the title with a DQ. That’s not how I wanted it.”

Armstrong would get his way.  And if there was any question about how the Tokyo medley relay gold medalist felt, this moment shared by the two combatants told the tale.

“I was just incredibly proud of him,” Armstrong said before the reversal. “He’s an amazing athlete, a great talent and completely raw. He’s capable of so much, and to have that taken away from him, it sucks.”

Ress and Armstrong had led the way through the semifinals, Ress in 24.14 and Armstrong .02 behind in a harbinger of the final. Only Apostolos Christou was within a quarter-second of them. Ress also set the pace in prelims at 24.24, where he dodged a similar DQ call on a long finish.

Christou (24.39), Ceccon (24.46) and Masiuk (24.46) all set national records in the semifinals. Ole Braunschweig (24.58) set one in prelims for Germany.

“It is amazing,” Masiuk said. “I wasn’t really expecting this, I hoped I could do a personal best in the final and it happened. I’m just very happy and can’t really describe my feelings.”

Five of the finalists were holdovers from the 100 back final, where Ceccon set the world record on route to gold in 51.60. (Ceccon added a gold later in the night in the medley relay to cushion the blow of his lost bronze.) In the 100, Armstrong won bronze, Christou was fifth with the 17-year-old Masiuk sixth and Robert Glinta of Romania eighth. Glinta tied Christou for fifth in the 50 back Saturday.


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Phil Austin
Phil Austin
1 year ago

I briefly met Justin at the Taylor Family Y pool in Cary NC a few weeks ago, as he was sharing a lane with his mother Maya. She is a long time lifeguard there. Congratulations on the win! Hunter is a very talented, upright, and encouraging teammate.

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