World Aquatics Championships 2017

Medals next for Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey after historic world championships final showing, says former Olympian Ronnie Wong

University of Michigan student finishes fifth in the women’s 200-metre freestyle showpiece at the Aquatics World Championships in Hungary

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 6:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 10:36pm

Siobhan Haughey can take herself and Hong Kong swimming to the next level – winning medals – following her historic fifth place finish in the women’s 200-metre freestyle final at the world championships, according to former Olympian Ronnie Wong Man-chiu.

Haughey, 19, finished behind world record holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy, American Katie Ledecky, Emma McKeon of Australia and Russia’s Veronika Popova in Budapest on Wednesday night, having become the first-ever Hong Kong swimmer to reach an Aquatics World Championships final.

And despite the occasion, the University of Michigan student was able to improve her Hong Kong record for a third time this week to one minute and 55.96 seconds, having posted 1:56.91 in her semi-final appearance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games last year.

“It is quite encouraging as the first-ever Hong Kong grown swimmer to achieve such a result. She was born in Hong Kong and trained in Hong Kong. She lived in Hong Kong for 19 years and trained in Hong Kong and we are very proud of her being home grown,” said Wong, the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association president.

“I think she can become a model athlete for the way she trains and has been brought up in swimming and the swimming coaches and local clubs can see someone from Hong Kong can reach this level.

“She can go to another level with the support of her family and Hong Kong. The whole of Hong Kong is behind her.”

Haughey, who earlier said “making the finals is a challenging but attainable goal”, qualified for the eight-women showdown with the sixth fastest time in the semi-finals, which itself improved her Hong Kong record from the mark she set in Rio.

That earned the teenager a spot in lane seven next to Pellegrini, who went onto claim the gold medal in 1:54:73, with Ledecky and McKeon tied for second with identical times of 1:55:18.

Hong Kong teen swim star Siobhan Haughey aiming to go one better than Olympic Games and make final at world championships

“Swimming is different compared to other sports and just to get to the final is great news. She is also only 19 and still has a long way to go. If she concentrates and focuses she can keep going until 23 or 24, she still has many years left,” added Wong, who represented Hong Kong at the 1968 and 1972 Olympics.

“She has the right attributes to be a swimmer and she trains consistently. She has grown up the right way to become an elite athlete.

“Credit to her coach Michael Fasching, who was also the coach of Hannah Wilson. He is quite experienced in the way of training Hong Kong swimmers and swimmers in Asia.”

Having become the first Hong Kong swimmer to reach an Olympic semi-final in Rio, earlier this year Haughey also helped the University of Michigan win back-to-back Big Ten championships, and clearly continued that form in Hungary as she eyes a return to the Games in Tokyo in 2020.

Hong Kong swim star Siobhan Haughey breaks own record as she warms up for World Championships

“She did amazing in the heats and the semi-finals. Finishing second in her heat was great and she kept improving her time, and then coming fifth in the final at a world championship is huge,” said former Hong Kong Olympic swimmer Karen Robertson, who competed at the 1976 Games in Montreal.

“She is young and has a lot of promise. She has not got to this level without a good head on her shoulders and has found a balance between swimming and school and found a way to be able to cope.”