x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Olympics: Velimir Stjepanovic unable to make a difference

With Serbia faring poorly in 4x100m relay heats, UAE-based swimmer will look for improved performance in 200m butterfly today.

Swimmers in action during the men's 4x100m freestyle relay heats in London yesterday. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
Swimmers in action during the men's 4x100m freestyle relay heats in London yesterday. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

LONDON // Velimir Stjepanovic, the UAE-raised swimmer, received a taster of what to expect when he begins his 200 metre butterfly campaign today after he turned out for Serbia's 4x100m freestyle relay team at the Aquatics Centre yesterday.

The Serbian quartet were happy with their time of three minutes 18.79 seconds, even though it was six and a half seconds behind the winners of their heat, Australia, and a long way off being fast enough for them to progress in the competition. In fact they finished second from last.

Stjepanovic, the former Jumeirah College schoolboy who is the youngest member of the Serbian swimming team, swam the second leg of the race, which will have provided some vital experience of what it feels like competing at the Games ahead of his main event.

The Abu Dhabi-born teenager actually secured his qualification for London 2012 in this pool back in March, but the prevailing conditions were rather different than to what they are now.

He posted what was then the fastest 200m butterfly time in the world this year in a low-profile morning heat of the British Gas Swimming Championships back then.

He probably barely recognised the place yesterday, with the stands of the quirkily designed Aquatics Centre pulsing with around 17,000 people, mostly cheering on the home favourite Rebecca Adlington in her 400m freestyle heat which preceded the 4x100m relay. The Serbians themselves were pitched into a stellar heat, which brought together the two fierce rivals in the event, Australia and the United States. The heats for the 200m butterfly start at 1.21pm today.

Cameron van der Burgh, the South African swimmer, set a world record as he triumphed in the men's 100m breaststroke.

His time of 58.46 seconds saw him edge out Australia's Christian Sprenger.

In the women's finals, Dana Vollmer, the American swimmer, set a world record on her way to winning the women's 100m butterfly.

She dominated the event to win by more than a second in a time of 55.98 seconds, slicing 0.08 off the previous mark set by Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom at the 2009 world championships in Rome.

In the 400m freestyle, France's Camille Muffat held off a late challenge from Allison Schmitt of the United States to win in a new Olympic record time of four minutes, 01.45 seconds.

France pulled off another upset victory over the United States – this time to claim the men's 4x100 freestyle relay gold medal for the first time.

A pulsating final saw France come home just ahead of the Americans to claim the gold with Russia finishing third.

pradley@thenational.ae

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