Finke & Wiffen Lead the Way With Hafnaoui & Short Poised For Furious 1500 Curtain Closer

2023-07-29 Reading Time: 3 minutes
Bobby Finke - double distance king of Tokyo - by Patrick B. Kraemer

Olympic champion Bobby Finke and Daniel Wiffen, the Irish improver to the ranks of podium contenders swam side-by-side towards tickets to lanes 4 and 5 in the 1500m showdown that will unfold in the curtain-closing session of the 20th World Championships tomorrow.

No Florian Wellbrock, the German ace who excelled in open water with 10km and 5km golds, on 15:10 down in 27th and perhaps heading home for a physiological test and rest. No Gregorio Paltrinieri, the defender not even entered to defend after racing in open water and the 800m in Fukuoka.

A pity two contenders likely to be back in the fray come Paris 2024 are not in the race but here are the lucky men alongside Finke and Wiffen: 800m champion Ahmed Hafnaoui, Lukas Märtens, Mykhailo Romanchuk (the latter two training partners with Wellbrock under the guidance of coach Bernd Berkhahn), 400m champion Sam Short, Krisztof Rasovszky and David Aubry.

The race is likely to lead to American gold if no-one can do what Paltrinieri did last year: make sure its not a stroke-for-stroke affair with the podium chasers in a relative line at the 1400m turn.

Third through, Olympic 400m champion Hafnaoui has already proven he could be the man to out Finke Finke, having scotched a last lap to history in the 800m. He emerged from that race to say he was glad he hadn’t been “Finked”.

Cue ripples of LOL’s out to the world of water but the serious point was lost on not a single member of the 1500m crew: you either match his sprint finish or do a Paltrinieri and push the pace to where the sun might set on the World record.

A great race in prospect.

This morning’s top two (all qualifiers and a few potted notes below a comment on the medals table and the meet of nations unfolding):

Finke & Wiffen In Heats


The image to the right offers and embarrassing view of the Fukuoka medals table. It’s nothing unusual: American media has made overall medals the first column for decades. It’s the safest way to ensure USA is almost always at the top of the heap, even when they aren’t.

It’s very, well, un-American, of course: only gold gets the big headlines, attention, money, faces on cereal packets and the like. Forget the silver s and bronzes as flag-carrier moments, except where they can help hide the strengths of others.

It’s a form of cultural arrogance, egos to the fore. Very human. Humans change too, when they realise they’ve got it wrong. It’s time for the U.S. media, particularly services associated and part of NBC, the Olympic broadcaster, to change their ways and list the tables as everyone else in the world lists them: gold count is column 1, overall medals is the last column.

That’s how meets are won.

Right now, Australia rules the waves, with 10 golds to China’s 5 and 3 for the USA. Even at this stage, there;’s everything to play for. A rough guess would put a perfect weekend for the USA at 10 golds; a perfect weekend for Australia could deliver 6. It won’t work out like that because some of those 10 and 6 include golden contenders from both nations AND contenders from elsewhere.

Chances are that we’re looking at an Australia victory on the medals table in a repeat of 2001 history in the same city when Don Talbot led the Dolphins to defeat of Eagles on the count that counts most: gold.

And that’s ok. It’s good for swimming, good for the USA too. Hunger is harder to find when your belly is always full.

Day 7 Results in Full – with potted notes.

Women’s 50m Freestyle: World-record holder Sarah Sjostrom travelled to Fukuoka for this. She has the 50 ‘fly final tonight and the 50 free final tomorrow, assuming all goes well in semis.

Men’s 50m backstroke: Hunter Armstrong is listed as World record holder. His 23.71 is said to have passed to Kliment Kolesnikov in 23.55. There’s no comparing remote meets held in very different circumstances but a spike has been added to proceedings

Women’s 50m breaststroke: Pilato Vs Meilutyte here we go…

Mixed 4x100m Free: The world record will fall…

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