Missed chances to qualify for Rio

PHOTO: The Straits Times

It may have been only a night of swimming finals which had been axed owing to the haze situation.

But the cancellation of yesterday's Fina Swimming World Cup events put paid to the efforts of swimmers who had travelled half the world to try to qualify for next year's Olympics, as well as the organisers who had planned the event for months.

In a press statement, Singapore Swimming Association (SSA) vice-president (finance) Jose Raymond said that the SSA and swimming's world governing body Fina "deeply regret cancelling day one of the finals".

The former Singapore Environment Council chief executive officer also added that the haze destroyed "months of hard work put into preparing for programmes and events".

Most of the swimmers were disappointed at not being able to race. Said South Africa's 100m breaststroke Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh, who was slated to compete in two events yesterday: "My heart really goes out to all the guys that travel all the way here just for this leg.

"I know a couple of South Africans and Australians who just came for Singapore.

"But it's not Singapore's fault, you can't do anything about it. It's disappointing but that's the way it is."

The scrapping of yesterday's 15 finals was a missed opportunity for some swimmers to qualify for next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The World Cup series, typically a short course (25m) meet, is adopting a long course (50m) format this year, so that swimmers can use it to meeting the Games' qualifying times. That is the case for Malaysia's four swimmers, who arrived here with head coach Paul Birmingham.

He said: "It's not the end of the world but it's disappointing. We don't get a lot of opportunity to race in this region to qualify for the Olympics.

"It's a missed chance. Let's hope it clears up."

Cancellation of yesterday's finals meant the three fastest swimmers in the heats will be awarded the medals. For timed finals, those who have not swum will use their best time from the two previous races.

Fans too were left disgruntled, as they missed out on a number of quality races, including the 200m backstroke showdown between world champion Emily Seebohm, multiple Olympic champion Missy Franklin, and world 200m individual medley record holder Katinka Hosszu.

They were the top three in the 200m back at August's World Swimming Championships in Kazan.

Hosszu, whose better time from the first two legs in Hong Kong and Beijing was 2min 8.61sec, will be awarded the gold, with Seebohm (2:09.22) taking the silver and Franklin (2:10.36) settling for bronze.

Seebohm said: "I only get to race Missy two to three times a year. I thought I could do well today, and it would have been nice to race them and see where I'm at.

"But in terms of preparing for the Olympics this doesn't really affect me much, because we have the Olympic trials next April."

Organisers said today's race programme, in which heats are scheduled at 10am, with finals set for 6pm, remains unchanged, although they will monitor weather conditions closely.


This article was first published on October 04, 2015.
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