Oh so close as Hong Kong’s Kenneth To pipped by Russian for gold

The former Australian swimmer comes extremely close to winning gold at the Hong Kong leg of the World Cup leg but still goes home in celebration mode

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 10:04pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 October, 2017, 11:00pm

Hong Kong swimmer Kenneth To King-him just missed out on gold at the 2017 World Cup series after losing to Russia’s Kirill Prigoda by two hundreds of a second in the men’s 200 metres individual medley at Victoria Park on Sunday night.

With hundreds of spectators cheering To to the finish, the Hong Kong star was still leading Prigoda at the final turn before the Russian, second in the overall rankings before the Hong Kong leg, got the measure of the Hong Kong star and touched the boards fractionally quicker to claim gold. He clocked one minutes and 54.81 seconds while the home favourite stopped the clocks at 1:54.83.

“I could have won the gold had I done better in the first two disciplines in the butterfly and backstrokes and pulled away from the Russian, who is very strong in the breaststroke,” said To, who collected his second silver of the day after one silver and two bronze medals on the first day. The other silver was in the 4x50-metre mixed freestyle relay.

“But I still feel so happy. I’ve only trained two weeks for the event and my times were very impressive. It’s all down to who touched the wall first.”

To’s result shattered his own Hong Kong record set in the Berlin leg in August when he finished the event with a time 1:54.97.

After becoming eligible to represent Hong Kong in June, To, formerly of Australia, will be celebrating his first Mid-Autumn Festival with his girlfriend, Kelly Kwong Ka-yi, whom he knew two years ago at the same competition when she was the announcer.

“Mid-Autumn is a big event in Hong Kong and it’s so sweet that I can celebrate it with Kelly after we got together,” he said. “There have been some good results after I returned to Hong Kong and I look forward to more in future.”

Hong Kong won 11 medals in total - 4 silver and 7 bronze in the two-day competition, one of its best results for the local team in the World Cup series.

In the overall rankings, Katinka Hosszu of Hungary won all six events she entered, beating overall leader Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden to second place in Hong Kong, but Sjostrom, who won five gold, is still top of the rankings.

The world governing body changed the rules this year with a maximum of six events and the Hungarian swimmer could not repeat her feat of 10 gold medals in Hong Kong of last year.

In the men’s event, overall leader Chad le Clos of South Africa continued to lead the table with three gold and three silver medals in Hong Kong.