x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Lochte stays golden for US team in swimming

Ryan Lochte swam the anchor leg for the US team's 4x200m relay and delivered another gold-medal performance at the Shanghai Aquatics Championships.

SHANGHAI // Ryan Lochte claimed two more gold medals at the swimming world championships yesterday, raising his victory total to four with at least one more event to go.

The American led from start to finish in the 200-metre backstroke, then rallied the US past France, in the anchor leg, to win the 4x200m freestyle relay.

"When Ryan is hot right now you don't want anyone else on the end of the relay," said Ricky Berens, who swam the third leg for the Americans.

Michael Phelps led off the relay, leaving the US third behind Paul Biedermann of Germany and Yannick Agnel of France. Peter Vanderkaay then put the US in front at the halfway mark, but France led at 600 metres before Lochte passed Fabien Gilot with only one lap to go.

"They were talking about me swimming the last leg," Vanderkaay said. "I said, 'Are you sure you don't want Ryan on that?'

"He doesn't surprise me anymore."

Earlier in the meeting, Lochte won the 200m free and 200m Individual Medley (IM), relegating Phelps to silver both times. He also set a world record in the 200m IM - the only world mark in swimming since hi-tech bodysuits were banned 19 months ago.

"I have a lot of confidence, especially [after] what happened with last year," said Lochte, who won six golds to Phelps's five at the Pan Pacific Championships in 2010. "I'm just taking each swim meet at a time, each race at a time, and each year at a time."

Lochte has five medals in all, having also got a bronze in the 4x100m free relay on the opening night of what has turned out to be a stellar competition for the American. He will also be favoured in the 400m IM and could swim the medley relay on the final night of competition tomorrow.

In other events, Rebecca Soni of the US won the 200m breaststroke to go with her 100m title.

Jeanette Ottesen and Aliaksandra Herasimenia of Belarus finished in a dead heat for gold in the women's 100m freestyle, both clocking 53.45 seconds. Ranomi Kromowidjojo, of the Netherlands, touched third in 53.66.

It was the second time in these championships that there was a dead heat for gold, after Camille Lacourt and Jeremy Stravius of France shared the top spot on the podium in the men's 100m backstroke on Tuesday.

Britta Steffen, the world record holder, dropped out after finishing 16th in the heats on Thursday. The German swept both the 50m and 100m free at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the last worlds in Rome two years ago.

Daniel Gyurta, of Hungary, overtook Kosuke Kitajima, the Olympic champion of Japan, on the final lap to defend his title in the men's 200m breaststroke.

Gyurta clocked 2:08.41, while Kitajima, who was on a world-record pace with 50 metres to go, took the silver in 2:08.63. Christian vom Lehn, of Germany, earned the bronze in 2:09.06. Kitajima was not competing when Gyurta won his first title two years ago.

"It's probably the biggest day of my life because ever since I started taking part in the world championships in 2003, I've tried to catch [Kitajima], and now I've succeeded," Gyurta said. "Most of the time in my training, I practice the final 50 metres, how to push it hard. I'm happy I managed to implement it."

In the 200m backstroke, Lochte hardly celebrated after hitting the wall in 1:52.96, more than a second in front of Ryosuke Irie of Japan and Tyler Clary of the US.