Rio de Janeiro – Kosuke Hagino saw his bid for domination in the Rio Olympic pool grind to an abrupt halt when he finished seventh in the 200-meter freestyle final on Monday night.
Hagino was looking to follow his gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley with more success at the Olympic Aquatic Stadium, but instead China’s Sun Yang left him spluttering in his wake as Hagino struggled home second from last in a time of 1 minute, 45.90 seconds.
“My time was worse than it was yesterday in the semifinal,” said Hagino, who finished 1.25 seconds behind Sun’s winning time of 1:44.65. “I thought I could go faster and it’s frustrating that I couldn’t.
“I thought Sun would be first, and if I could stick with him then I might get second or third, but I ended up seventh. I’ve got the 4×200-meter relay tomorrow and I need to forget this and get ready.”
South Africa’s Chad le Clos took the silver with a time of 1:45.20, while American Conor Dwyer claimed bronze in 1:45.23.
Hagino made a fast start but faded almost immediately, leaving Sun to pick up his second medal of the games having won silver behind Australia’s Mack Horton in Saturday’s 400 freestyle final.
“I had a bad result so everyone is asking if I’m injured or in bad condition, but that’s not the case,” said Hagino. “I just wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t raise my times through the heats, semifinals and final, and that’s the reason why I couldn’t get a medal.”
Sun found himself under the microscope going into the race after Horton labeled him a drug cheat following Saturday’s race. Sun served a three-month doping ban handed down by the Chinese Swimming Association in 2014.
“Today we were competing in the 200, so I only focused on myself and nothing else,” said Sun. “I just need to be myself to be a champion. I wasn’t paying attention to anything else.”
There was more doping-related animosity in the pool when Lilly King of the United States went head-to-head with Russia’s Yulia Efimova in the women’s 100 breaststroke final.
King criticized Efimova’s right to swim at the Rio Games prior to the race, following the Russian’s 16-month suspension for doping and subsequent positive test for the banned substance meldonium — a test which was placed on hold while anti-doping authorities conduct further studies on the drug.
King won the race in an Olympic-record time of 1 minute, 4.93 seconds, while Efimova — who was booed relentlessly — took silver in a time of 1:05.50.
“I stand by what I said yesterday,” said King, who declined to congratulate Efimova after the race and celebrated instead with bronze-medal-winning compatriot Katie Meili (1:05.69). “I just swam my race and didn’t let that affect me.
“There is a lot of pressure even just going into an Olympic final, but especially saying what I feel is right.”
A tearful Efimova cut a lonely figure in the post-race press conference, with practically every question addressing her doping past.
“I have once made a mistake and I paid for it for 16 months,” said the 24-year-old. “For the second time it’s not mine. I don’t know if I need to explain to everybody or not.”
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary claimed her second gold medal of the games when she won the women’s 100 backstroke in a world-record time of 4:26.36.
“I think I am feeling a little bit of shock,” said Hosszu, who also won the 400 IM. “I knew that I could win but I was so tired that I told the Hungarians before the race that I could get anything from first place to eighth place.”
Kathleen Baker of the U.S. (58.75) took silver and Canada’s Kylie Masse and China’s Fu Yuanhui both claimed bronze with identical times of 58.76.
Ryosuke Irie finished seventh in the men’s 100 backstroke, which was won by Ryan Murphy of the United States in an Olympic-record time of 53.42 seconds. Murphy finished ahead of Xu Jiayu (and 52.31) and American David Plummer (52.40).
“I concentrated but the swimmers around me were just too fast,” said Irie, who won bronze in the event at the London Games but finished with a time of 53.42 in Rio. “Now I have to get ready for the 200 meters.”