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Siobhan Haughey

Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey sets sights on 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo after world championships breakthrough

Teenager misses out on women’s 100-metre freestyle showpiece at the Aquatics World Championships in Budapest following earlier historic final appearance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 July, 2017, 12:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 July, 2017, 11:53am

Siobhan Haughey insists she is “very optimistic for the future” with next year’s Asian Games, the 2019 world championships and 2020 Olympic Games already in the teenager’s sights following her historic week in Hungary.

Haughey missed out on the women’s 100-metre freestyle final at the Aquatics World Championships in Budapest on Thursday despite posting an encouraging time of 54.05 seconds, having earlier gone under 54 seconds in Hong Kong’s 4x100m freestyle relay heat.

The 19-year-old University of Michigan student only has the 4x100m medley relay on Sunday left in Hungary, with Haughey swimming the breaststroke leg.

But regardless of that result, with Hong Kong “just doing it for fun”, Haughey will leave Budapest with her head held high and looking to the future after finishing fifth in the women’s 200m freestyle final on Wednesday.

“I am very optimistic for the future. It is great to be able to swim with the best swimmers in the world, and heading into Tokyo 2020 I am very optimistic,” said Haughey, who was the first Hong Kong swimmer to reach an Aquatics World Championships final. “We also have the Asian Games [in Indonesia] next summer and that is a big target and then the worlds in 2019.”

Haughey improved her 200m freestyle Hong Kong record in all three individual races in Budapest, including in the final after clocking one minute and 55.96 seconds behind winner and world record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy.

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“I don’t remember a lot. I just remember being really calm before the race, which I think was a good thing. I remember in the last 50 Pellegrini was on my right side and she was going so fast and I just thought to myself ‘I at least have to beat someone’ and Leah Smith was right next to me and each of us were just fighting stroke for stroke. It was a really amazing race,” said Haughey.

“I saw Pellegrini’s charge, and when I turned to my right, all I saw were her legs and the water splashing. She did amazing.

“I thought maybe the rest of the field was also going really that fast, so I was just focusing on my own race.”

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Haughey has been able to carry her form from 2016 in Rio de Janeiro into Budapest, having become the first Hong Kong swimmer to make an Olympic Games semi-final, which was highlighted by her cumulative time of 53.99 seconds in the opening leg of Hong Kong’s 4x100m freestyle relay heat on Sunday.

Even that time would not have been enough to earn Haughey another final spot as she eventually finished 14th overall out of the 16 swimmers in the 100m freestyle semi-finals with a time of 53.20 securing a top-eight finish.

“I am pretty happy with it,” said Haughey after her 100m freestyle semi-final, having clocked 54.45 in her heat to progress. “Before I came to this meet, my best time was a 54.4, but then I went under 54 in the relay. I am pretty happy with this as I think it is my second fastest time. I am also pretty tired after the last few days, so it is not a bad swim, it is a good swim.”

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Haughey rounds off her time in Hungary in the 4x100m medley relay on Sunday, with Hong Kong in a heat that includes Australia, Canada and Great Britain.

“Hong Kong is just doing it for fun as we don’t really have anyone who can swim breaststroke so I will be swimming breaststroke and it is something I don’t normally do in international meets. It is like my second stroke. It should be fun swimming with other Hong Kong girls,” she added.

Haughey, having helped the University of Michigan win back-to-back Big Ten championships earlier this year, will have little time to rest as she next heads to Taipei for the World University Games in August.

“My main focus this summer is the world championships. My coach originally didn’t really want me to race at the World University Games because he wanted me to take a break after worlds and come back fresh and recharged for the new college season,” she said.

“However I would also like to compete in the [World University Games] because it’s not every day that I get to represent Hong Kong and Michigan in the same competition. I am not really thinking about medals or records. I just want to have fun, and enjoy the meet.”