Siobhan Haughey strikes gold for Hong Kong in World University Games 100 metres freestyle
The 19-year-old swept to victory in the final in 54.10 seconds for the city’s first gold medal of the games in Taiwan
Swimming star Siobhan Haughey gave Hong Kong their first gold medal of the 2017 World University Games when she triumphed in the women’s 100 metres freestyle in Taiwan on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old delivered one of the best international performances for Hong Kong in recent years to take the blue riband pool event at the games for the world’s elite sporting students.
Haughey, who won the world junior title at the same distance in 2013, was in superb form in the final as she touched home in 54.10 seconds at the National Taiwan Sport University arena in Taipei.
Although she fell short of the Hong Kong record she set on Sunday when she swam in the first leg of the 4x100-metre freestyle relay in 53.83, her effort was enough to capture gold and send the entire Hong Kong camp into raptures.
The Michigan University student said before her departure that her coach did not want her to take part in the Games because it was too close after the World Championships.
But the young starlet wanted to join her older sister and breaststroke swimmer, Aisling, at the Games because they hadn’t competed in a major meet together for many years.
Also, Haughey said it was an opportunity to represent both Hong Kong and her university and she didn’t wan to miss it.
The empathetic result not only brought Hong Kong their first gold in the Games after swimmer Hannah Wilson snared a double at the 2009 edition in Belgrade, but it also earns her a hefty cash bonus of HK$500,000 under the Jockey Club Athlete Incentive Awards Scheme for major games.
The talented youngster was already the fastest swimmer in the semi-finals the previous night with a time of 54.52 and Haughey continued her dominance in the final, leading right from the starting block until she touched home.
Mariia Kameneva, of Russia, was second in 54.37, with another Russian swimmer, Arina Openysheva clocking 54.89 to finish third.
Haughey now has the chance to equal the record of Wilson as she takes to the water again in the 200-metre freestyle on Thursday, the same event in which she claimed fifth spot at the World Championships in Budapest last month when she became the first swimmer from Hong Kong to reach a worlds final.
In the men’s 200-metre individual medley, Kenneth To King-him finished eighth in the final when he competed all four disciplines in 2.01.64. Daiya Seto, of Japan, came second after winning his 200-metre butterfly semi-final just 20 minutes earlier ago before getting back to the pool to lift the silver as his teammate Kosuke Hagino took full advantage to win the race in a new Games record 1:57.35 while Seto finished with a time of 1:58.73.
To, formerly based in Australia and who only became eligible to represent Hong Kong in June after returning to the place of his birth last year, still has the 50-metre freestyle and 100-metre freestyle in his first campaign for Hong Kong at a major games.
The 25-year-old set a new Hong Kong record in the 100 metres when he swam in the first leg of the 4x100 metre freestyle relay in 49.41 on Sunday.