United States dominates world junior swimming

Dubai, Sep 2 (IANS/WAM) The United States took the honours at 4th FINA World Junior Swimming Championships, bagging the awards for the top women's team, men's team and overall winning team as the event came to a close.

In the women's rankings, the US was placed first, followed by Australia in second and Russia in third. The men's was also won by the US with Russia in second and Australia in third. The combined rankings saw America take the honours as the best team of the meet, with Australia in second and Russia in third.

The US topped the total medal table with 28, to Russia's 26 and Australia's 18.

In an exciting climax to the six-day event which saw the best juniors in the world battle it out for glory, another nine Championship records fell on the final night Sunday. Thirty-four new times now stand as Championship records.

The action was breathtaking from the outset, with the much anticipated duel between the sprint kings in the boys 100m freestyle. In a reversal of the 50 freestyle result, the gold medal was taken by the US's Caeleb Dressel, who stormed home in the last 50 to touch in a Championship record 48.97, just ahead of Australia's Luke Percy in 49.06. Russia's Evgeny Sedov took third.

The girls 200m breaststroke was the next record to fall, with the Ukraine's Viktoriya Solcneva winning convincingly in 2:23.12, taking her country's first gold medal ahead of team mate Anastasiya Malyavina who finished over four seconds behind in 2:27.46. Silvia Guerra of Italy took bronze.

After Ukraine claimed its first gold, it was Italy's turn to claim its first for the Championships. After qualifying fastest in the heats, Luca Mencarini made no mistake, taking out the boys 200m backstroke and setting another Championship record in 1:57.92. Japan's Sunama Keita took the silver and Connor Green of the US claimed the bronze.

The Championship records continued to fall in the next event, the girls 100m butterfly, when Svetlana Chimrova took the 50m/100m double in 58.34. Hungary's Liliana Szilagyi collected her second silver of the meet, and Australia's Jemma Schlicht took bronze.

The much anticipated boys 1500m was next on the programme and all eyes were on Australia's golden boy Mack Horton, who had already won 4 gold and a silver. Horton was the only swimmer in the field to have previously swum a sub-15 minute race, with a 14:59.66 in May this year. As expected, Horton took the lead early and was never threatened, finishing in a blistering 14:56.60, 11.83 seconds ahead of silver medallist Jan Micka of Czech Republic. In a repeat of the medals for the 800m freestyle, Pawel Furtek of Poland won bronze.

From golden boy to golden girl, the next event featured the Lithuanian superstar, Ruta Meilutyte, in the 50m freestyle. Meilutyte had already collected 3 gold and 2 silver medals, and did not disappoint in her final race of the programme, finishing first in 25.10, touching out Russia's Rozaliya Nasretdinova, with Hong Kong's 100m freestyle gold medallist Siobhan Haughey taking bronze.

The Championship record fell again in the next race, the boys 200m butterfly. Andrew Seliskar of the US touched first in 1:56.42, ahead of Masato Sakai of Japan and Alexander Kudashev of Russia.

Peter Stevens on Slovenia followed up his Championships record breaking win in the heats of the boys 50m breaststroke with a gold medal in the final, finishing in 27.98. Kohei Goto of Japan collected a silver to go with his bronze in the 100m breaststroke, and Vsevolod Zanko of Russia took bronze.

Italy topped the podium for the second time in the next event, the girls 200m freestyle, as Diletta Carli surprised all by taking gold. Maria Baklakova of Russia collected the silver, to go with her gold and 2 silvers from the relays. Quinn Carrozza of the US took bronze.

The 4x100m medley relays provided a thrilling finish to the event, with both winning teams breaking Championship records. The boys event saw Japan break though for their first relay gold in 3:38.13, with Russia in second place and South Africa taking their first medal of the meet, the bronze. The US had secured the bronze, but were later disqualified for an incorrect change, to give South Africa their first podium.

The final event of the championships, the girls relay, had the crowd on their feet, as Russia touched first 4:04.48. The team of Daria Ustinova, Anna Belousova, Svetlana Chimrova and Rozaliya Nasretdinova claimed Russia's ninth gold medal of the meet. Britain put in a strong performance to take the silver, with the US finishing in third.

--IANS/WAM

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