Could Siobhan Haughey be Hong Kong’s first gold medallist at the Taipei World University Games?
The 19-year-old Michigan University student is the fastest qualifier for the women’s 100 metres freestyle final as top prize looms for history-making swimmer
Hong Kong starlet Siobhan Haughey put herself in strong gold medal contention after swimming the fastest time in reaching the women’s 100 metres freestyle final at the World University Games in Taipei on Monday.
At the National Taiwan Sport University arena, the 19-year-old Michigan University student finished first in her semi-final, clocking 54.52 seconds after leading from start to finish to touch the boards just outside her Hong Kong record of 53.83 seconds set in the opening leg of the 4x100 metres freestyle relay on Sunday.
Haughey, the 2013 world junior champion in the same event, showed she had plenty left in the tank as she lines up as one of the favourites for Tuesday’s final.
Caroline Baldwin is probably her strongest rival after the American won the other semi-final in 54.95 seconds as the pair ignited a possible gold medal showdown.
Haughey said she wasn’t thinking too much about a medal and would try to stay relaxed for the final. “The other swimmers may reserve their best for the final as their results were not so fast tonight. Let’s see,” she said.
Hannah Wilson was the last Hong Kong athlete to have won University Games gold – in the same event – in Belgrade in 2009. Wilson clinched a double for Hong Kong by also winning the women’s 100 metres butterfly. Haughey, who still has yet to race in her strongest event – the 200 metres freestyle – which saw her finish a historic fifth place at the World Championships in Budapest last month, now stands on the cusp of striking Hong Kong’s first gold at the Games – and achieving another personal milestone.
Joining Haughey in the medal race will be Hong Kong teammate Kenneth To King-him, who twice broke the Hong Kong record in the men’s 200 metres individual medley before qualifying for the final.
The former Australia-based swimmer clocked 2:02.41 in his heats on Monday morning before improving his Hong Kong record by more than a second in the evening.
The 25 year-old was leading his semi-final after the first few strokes of the race, but was reeled in by his rivals in the last 50 metres in the freestyle segment to finish fourth.
To still swam 2:01.37, which was good enough to send him to the final in the eighth fastest time. Daiya Seto of Japan topped the overall rankings in 1:58.63.
In roller sports, Vanessa Wong twice improved her own Hong Kong record before finishing eighth in the women’s 300 metre time trial. The 24-year-old City University student clocked 28.157 seconds in the heats, shattering her own Hong Kong record of 28.339 set five years ago. She smashed it again with another tremendous effort when she clocked 27.866 in the final. Wong will start the 1,000 metres sprint on Tuesday.
In fencing, Kimberley Cheung reached the quarter-finals of the women’s individual foil, where she was stopped by Russia’s Yana Alborova 15-9. Cheung’s performance was the best result for Hong Kong fencers at the competition. The 23-year-old University of Science and Technology student came first in her pool before making her way to the last eight. Ryan Choi Chun-yin, the reigning Asian junior champion, will take the piste on Tuesday when he competes in men’s individual foil.