Swimming: Minna steals the show

Minna Atherton (centre) being congratulated by the other two medallists after she won the 100m backstroke last night. The Brisbane teenager achieved the feat in a world junior record 59.58sec.
Minna Atherton (centre) being congratulated by the other two medallists after she won the 100m backstroke last night. The Brisbane teenager achieved the feat in a world junior record 59.58sec.PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Little-known Australian teen breaks world junior record in 100 metres backstroke

The pre-race hype was centred on two boys, but it was a soft-spoken Australian girl who stole the show on day two of the Fina World Junior Swimming Championships last night.

Brisbane teenager Minna Atherton was the toast of the OCBC Aquatic Centre as she won the 100m backstroke gold in a world junior record time of 59.58sec.

The 15-year-old's mark is also the ninth fastest in the world this year, as she finished ahead of the United States' Claire Adams (1min 0.19sec) and New Zealand's Bobbi Gichard (1:00.42).

Adams, 17, had also timed 59.58 at the US nationals this month, but the mark has not been ratified by Fina.

A beaming Atherton said: "It was a really good experience, but I thought I could've come back faster, especially if I had controlled the pace better.

"This gives me confidence going into my other races."

The Australian stole the show from Russia's Anton Chupkov - who was also gunning for a world junior record in the 100m breaststroke - and the United States' Michael Andrew, who competed in five events last night.

Chupkov won the race but missed out on the world mark, while the load took its toll on Andrew, who managed just one bronze in four medal events.

The Russian, who later helped his country win the mixed 4x100m medley, said via a translator: "I'm not that disappointed - I knew I could win the gold, and I was saving my energy for the medley."

Andrews, meanwhile, said the number of events took a toll on him.

He added: "I didn't set myself up well. Maybe I could have done a couple of events fewer.

"Still, I'm glad we did what we did. It was a good lesson."

A total of nine golds were on offer yesterday, and Australia clinched two golds to maintain their position at the top of the medal table with four golds and two silvers.

Their second gold of the night came in the 200m individual medley won by Clyde Lewis in 2:00.15.

The US also won two golds via Maxime Rooney (men's 200m freestyle) and Sierra Schmidt, (women's 800m free) to stay second in the table with three golds, five silvers and three bronzes.

Russia sit in third place with two golds and two bronzes.

The evening's other golds went to Romania's Robert Glinta (100m backstroke), China's Wang Siqi (women's 200m fly) and Turkey's Viktoria Gunes (50m breaststroke).

In the morning heats, Singapore's Francis Fong, Samuel Khoo, Hoong En Qi and Christie Chue almost made the mixed medley final, finishing ninth with a time of 3:59.32.

The top eight teams make the final, and they were just off eighth-placed Brazil, who clocked 3:58.55.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2015, with the headline 'Minna steals the show'. Print Edition | Subscribe