Siobhan Haughey primed to defend titles at short course Fina World Championships in Melbourne
- The double Olympic silver medallist opts against competing in a third event, so she can focus on 100m and 200m freestyle
- Hong Kong coach ‘100 per cent confident’ in Haughey – ‘we do not need to put any pressure on her, she is already good enough’
Swimming star Siobhan Haughey is primed to defend her two titles at the year-end short course Fina World Championships this week in Melbourne, opting against competing in a third event.
Hong Kong head swimming coach Chen Jianhong expressed “100 per cent confidence” in Haughey, who will make her first appearance in the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on Wednesday.
“Siobhan’s training was very good here [at the Hong Kong Sports Institute]. Her target is to swim her best,” Chen said. “She is a very self-disciplined and demanding athlete, she is a role model to all our swimmers.”
After making another splash in the World Cup series last month, where she swept the 100m and 200m freestyle titles in times close to her records, and finished the three legs in Berlin, Toronto, and Indianapolis with seven gold medals and one bronze, the 25-year-old Haughey returned to her home city with her coach Tom Rushton.
“We do not need to put any pressure on her, she is already good enough,” Chen added. “We hope her young teammates at the Worlds can learn from her.”
Haughey will be in the No 2 seed in Wednesday’s women’s 100m free heats, and if the World Cup events are any indication, the 25-year-old could write another new chapter for Hong Kong in Thursday’s final.
The in-form Haughey swam a 51-second time in Indianapolis, just 0.21 seconds slower than her Asian record of 50.79 seconds, which was set at the International Swimming League in Eindhoven last December.
Her favourite event, the 200m freestyle, takes place on Sunday.
This time last year, the double Olympic silver medallist wowed in Abu Dhabi with two freestyle gold medals and a 200m free world record, ushering in a new era for Hong Kong swimming.
An ankle injury sustained in a poolside fall during a training session in Dubai in May forced her to miss several major long-course competitions, including the Mare Nostrum Tour and the World Championships in Budapest, and she did not return until August, at the Hong Kong Open Championships.
“Siobhan has trained even harder since recovering from injury. She had no choice but to miss the long course Worlds, and she will definitely have her plan to swim with this [Asian record] time in Melbourne,” Chen said.
Hong Kong has 16 swimmers competing in Melbourne, including some city record holders on the first day of competition.
Hayden Kwan, a 20-year-old backstroke specialist born in the United States to Hong Kong parents who became eligible to represent the city in August, will compete in the men’s 200m individual medley on Tuesday, with his favourite event – the 200m backstroke – set for Sunday.
“I trained a lot with the Stanford swimming team,” the California-based university student said. “But this meet will be a learning experience for me. I will be racing as fast as I can, and hope to do my best time.”
The 20-year-old Ng Cheuk-yin, who made his mark at the 2021 edition of the event by setting five city records in the 200m backstroke and four relays, has a busy day on first up, and will compete in the 50m butterfly and 100m backstroke.
On the women’s side, veteran Stephanie Au Hoi-shun will compete in her main event, the 100m backstroke, and Tinky Ho Nam-wai will go in the 400m free.