The Olympics are primarily recognized as the international stage where the champions of the future are set apart from the pack. On day three at the Aquatic Centre in London, in women’s swimming, the seeming teenage prodigies of today and well-respected veterans of tomorrow truly embodied this theory with sensational wins. After a surprisingly fast and tear-filled qualification in the semi-finals yesterday, 15-year-old Lithuanian teenager Ruta Meilutyte claimed the gold medal in the 100m breaststroke by fending off American Rebecca Soni and Beijing gold medalist Australian Leisel Jones.
Missy Franklin, a 17-year-old American and first-time Olympic athlete, miraculously beat Australian favorite Emily Seebohm in the 100m backstroke. Despite Seebohm clocking an Olympic record in the heat stages, she just could not put together a fast enough swim to surpass the American teenager. Astonishingly enough, Franklin had also just finished a 200m freestyle semi-final heat only 14 minutes prior to her gold medal showing.
In a post race interview Franklin said, “I couldn’t be happier right now, I still feel like someone needs to pinch me.”
A controversial story that has arisen from the pool is the mind-blowing tale of 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen. Ye, clocked lightning speeds in the 400m individual medley, with her freestyle leg times beating that of London gold medalist American Ryan Lochte. This is the exact piece of information that has critics crying foul play.
The World Swimming Coaches Association (WSCA) Executive Director John Leonard has been quoted as saying the swim times by Ye are “impossible.” Blatantly telling Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, that according to history in the sport, such results usually turn out to be doping cases. He also went on to compare the Chinese swimmer to Irish swimming drug cheat Michelle De Bruin, nee Smith.
Leonard continued, “Any time someone has looked like superwoman in the history of our sport they have later been found guilty of doping.” Going on his four and half decades of swimming experience Leonard said, “I have heard commentators saying ‘well she is 16, and at that age amazing things happen’. Well yes, but not that amazing. I am sorry.”
Unfortunately due to China’s history of doping scandal in the sport, it is likely that the media will overshadow Ye’s achievements until drug test results are released to prove otherwise.
Photo Credit: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports
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