26 Jul 2011

Chinese teenager puts swimming world on notice

6:33 am on 26 July 2011

Teenager Ye Shiwen, roared on by her home crowd, produced a devastating freestyle leg to land China's first swimming gold medal at the 2011 world championships by winning the women's 200 metres individual medley in Shanghai.

The 15-year-old, who displayed her explosive freestyle speed in the heats and semi-finals, stormed home from lane three as former world champion Ariana Kukors and Olympic champion Stephanie Rice battled it out for the minor placings.

Ye clocked two minutes 8.90 seconds to bring the noise of the crowd to a deafening crescendo that was complemented by two large drums banging out an irrepressible rhythm.

Australia's Alicia Coutts grabbed her second silver medal inside 80 minutes when she finished in 2:09.00.

The 23-year-old was also runner-up to Dana Vollmer of the United States in the 100 metre butterfly.

American Kukors, the world record holder, was timed at 2:09.12 as she pipped fourth-placed Rice for bronze.

It was a disappointing finish for the 23-year-old Rice who had qualified fastest after a last desperate lunge for the wall in the semi-finals.

However it was at least a return to form on the global stage for Rice, who has had a frustrating two years and acknowledged in 2009 she had never fully committed to the same level of training that had propelled her to three Olympic golds in Beijing a year earlier.

Last year her season was also cut short by a troubling shoulder injury that eventually required surgery.