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Siobhan Haughey qualified second-fastest in her 200m freestyle heat on Sunday. Photo: Xinhua

Siobhan Haughey clinches gold in 200m freestyle final at Fina World Championships in Melbourne

  • Hongkonger claims second medal in Australia, finishing ahead of Canada’s Rebecca Smith and Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands
  • The 25-year-old won silver in the 100m freestyle earlier in the week and is fired up to win a fifth medal on the final day of this year’s meet

Swimming sensation Siobhan Haughey clinched gold in the 200m women’s freestyle final on Sunday, her second podium finish at the Fina short course World Championships in Melbourne.

The double Olympic silver medallist defended her title with a time of 1 minute 51.65 seconds, ahead of Canada’s Rebecca Smith in second place and Marrit Steenbergen of the Netherlands in third.

The 25-year-old, who won silver in the women’s 100m freestyle on Thursday, wrote a new chapter last year when she claimed two gold medals and one bronze in the same meet in Abu Dhabi, including setting a new world-record time of 1:50.31 in the 200m freestyle final.

“Obviously I wanted to defend my title, I’ve tried to swim a little faster, but a win is a win,” Haughey said after the race.

Chen Jianhong, the Hong Kong head coach, said he expected Haughey’s achievements in Melbourne to inspire the city’s next generation of swimmers to aim higher in the future.

“Siobhan is not only a role model, but she is also a great motivator for young athletes to raise their goals and set themselves to world standards,” he said.

Chen, who took over as head coach in 2014 but has been involved in guiding the city’s athletes for two decades, said the team’s overall performance was “the best” he’d seen in 22 years.

“I hope the results in Melbourne are just the beginning, and I’m looking forward to all of them swimming their best in 2023, no matter how old they are,” he said.

In the men’s competition, Hayden Kwan’s 1:53.95 was a new personal best in the 200m backstroke, but it was not enough to get him out of his heat, where he finished seventh and 18th overall.

The Stanford University student, who became eligible to represent Hong Kong in August, shaved 1.41 seconds off his previous mark set at the Indianapolis World Cup last month.

Kwan then went on to swim in the men’s 4x100m medley relay heats with teammates Adam Chillingworth, Ng Cheuk-yin, and Ian Ho Yentou – all of who had broken their respective individual records earlier in the week – and came home with a new time of 3:30.73 to finish fifth.

“I think I performed pretty well at his meet,” Kwan said. “I’m happy with the results and learned a lot from my first World Championships. I’m looking forward to getting back to training and getting better.”

In total, 10 Hong Kong records fell in the Melbourne event, including four individual ones to Ho in the 50m freestyle, Ng in the 100m backstroke, Chillingworth in the 200m breaststroke, and Kwan in the 100m backstroke.

“I’m happy with my swim,” Ho said. “As we get older it’s not always guaranteed you’ll get a personal best, especially in your main event, so I feel very fortunate to have been able to put together a race that let me get into the semi-finals.”