Douglass, Fink, Kohler & Ribeiro Claim Day 2 World Titles In Doha

2024-02-12 Reading Time: 5 minutes
Doha days 2 winners at 2024 World Championships - compilation of images courtesy of World Aquatics

Kate Douglass produced the swim of day 2 at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha for victory in the 200m medley, while USA teammate Nic Fink, Germany’s Angelina Kohler and Portugal’s Diogo Ribeiro also celebrated victories, the latter two a celebration of firsts for self and country.

Fink’s win in the 100m breaststroke saw him share a podium with double Olympic champion Adam Peaty, who claimed bronze for his first visit to a World Championship podium since 2019, his journey to Paris rich with development and experience that transcends his sport and his achievements in the pool.

Peaty’s take focussed not on the podium but the context of his challenge and what every swimmer can learn from:

Adam Peaty Craig Lord

“It’s bittersweet because we didn’t come here for medals, I wasn’t really too fussed about aiming for those medals here because that’s just not the target, we’ve come off a hard bank of work. Last night gave me a little glimmer of hope that I could get even faster today, and maybe I would have if I’d executed those skills.

“I’m disappointed in that, but I have also got to make sure I don’t wear it, because it has been a long time since I’ve been in this. You’ve got to get that balance right. My happiness now in the sport comes from knowing I couldn’t have done anything more, and tonight I knew I could have done something more.

But I said out there that if I’d got what I wanted tonight and maybe it would have equalled the best possible performance I could have done here, maybe that would have been just as dangerous as not getting what I wanted, because this is going to push me, to make sure we’re executing those skills perfectly.

Adam Peaty – photo by Craig Lord

Day 2 finals

Women’s 200m medley final

Douglass Delivers The Swim Of Day 2 In Doha

Kate Douglass, photo courtesy of World Aquatics #AQUAFukuoka23

Taking 200m medley gold in a personal best of 2:07.05, 1.5sec swifter than it took for the Tokyo2020ne Olympic title, Kate Douglass was a class apart as she retained the 200m medley crown, Assuming she passes the test all Americans must pass, trials in June, Douglass looks primed to improve on the Olympic bronze she claimed in Tokyo three years ago in Paris this summer.

Douglass led from go to gold, while Canadian Sydney Pickrem spent the first half of battle in fourth place before putting her world-class 200m breaststroke skills on display, entering freestyle closest to the American and then keeping China’s Yi Yiting at bay, the podium completed in that order in 2:08.56 and 2:09.01.

Day 2 Results in full at Omega.

Men’s 100m breaststroke final

Nic Fink – by Patrick B. Kraemer / MAGICPBK)

Douglass’s victory came at the end of a session that started with triumph for her teammate in the 100m breaststroke, his 58.57, off a lead split of 26.98, keeping at bay Italy’s Nicolo Martineghi, 58.84, and Britain’s double Olympic and three-times World champion Adam Peaty, on 58.60 in semis but a touch down on that for bronze in 59.10.

Olympic gold in Paris will take a 57-sec swim but reigning champion Peaty, after having looked as though his career was spent in the woes of 2022 and challenges of winter 2022-2023, returned to a podium he dominated in 2015, 2017 and 2019, the latter in Gwangju a campaign that included one of the most outstanding beyond-its-time World records in swimming history, 56.88.

The other two finals of day 2 featured winners who made history for their countries.

Women’s 100m butterfly final

Angelina Kohler claimed the 100m butterfly crown in 56.28, just outside the 56.11 German record she set in semis yesterday. Her triumph marked the first for a German since 1986 and the days of the GDR and the first ever by a swimmer from unified Germany. Kohler has made fine progress in the past two years, her first two swims through the rounds producing national records inside 57sec for the first time.

Claire Curzan, USA, and Louise Hansson, Sweden, completed the podium in 56,61 and 56.94, respectively,. With Australian Brianna Throssell on 56.97 to round off the sub-57 club a whisker shy of the medals.

Men’s 50m Butterfly final

Portugal has its first World swimming champion after Diogo Ribeiro took the dash ‘fly crown in 22.97 ahead of American Michael Andrew and Australia Cameron McEvoy, on 23.07 and 23.08 respectively.

Editorial: A fine effort by Ribeiro but the challenge now is to ignore the great expectations of “Olympic gold” or at least a medal in the 100m at Paris 2024 even though the dash is no indicator of any such thing nor is Doha 2024 a good indicator for Paris either. The winning time is the slowest title win since 2013 (when Florent Manaudou clocked precisely the same time as Ribeiro’s today) and a time slower than the best seen in all rounds since 2005.

To point that out is not to be negative. It’s the kindest thing young Diogo could hear and the most important message his entourage must seek to impress on media and the national consciousness back home.

Before the week is out in Doha, we will see more moments of excellent swimming in circumstances dictated by governance decisions taken for financial and contractual reasons, as opposed to the best interests of the sport of swimming.

The challenge for the athletes is much simpler to understand than handle. Back home this evening and as tomorrow’s papers hit the stands in Portugal, Ribeiro is a national sensation. Niche media from home and in language-sibling Brazil have leapt on the word “histórico” for their headlines A wonderful moment – but one that needs placing in context does not make him a golden prospect for the Olympics this summer.

The men who have thumped the winning time this day in Doha on many occasions were not in the race, such is the circumstance of holding a global long-course showcase in Olympic year because covid-catch-up contracts had to be honoured and no-one was prepared to compromise in the best interests of athletes. Organiser first, athlete second, is not a good look in these days of supposed reform.

More context, which you all know but the wider audience will be far less able or willing to appreciate as Diogo has the weight of Olympic gold placed around his neck in the form of expectation and pressure. There is no 50m butterfly at the Olympics and if there were, all would be looking to get well inside 22.5 to make the medals. In the 100m, a sub-50sec swim will be required for glory and even to get closest to it.

Now starts the craft of great coaching, psychology, media education that speaks truth not PR – and the deeper understanding of a federation in the midst of a crisis with its roots in an age-old problem of functionaries placing their own interests above those of athletes.

In such circumstances, there’s a risk of Ribeiro being seen and used as a cash cow (in the context of funding and its reliance on medals in many parts of the world of swimming) and as a celebration of governance even when governance has played no part.

Young Diogo should avoid the circus, enjoy the moment and then get his head back down to the work that got him to where he is and now needs to take him the further mile.

Day 2 Semi-Finals

Men’s 100m backstroke semi

Women’s 100m breaststroke semi

Women’s 100m backstroke semi

Men’s 200m freestyle semi

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