Kos Cites The Sun Devil In The Details Of 200 Back Win Over Murphy – ‘Bob Bowman Effect’

2023-07-28 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Hubert Kos - World 200m backstroke Champion

When Hubert Kos was asked what underpinned his victory in the 200m backstroke ahead of 2016 Olympic champion Ryan Murphy of the USA, the Hungarian replied: “The Bob Bowman effect”.

Like French ace Léon Marchand, Kos trains with the Sun Devils at Arizona State University and since working under coach Bowman’s guidance has turned his attention from a largely medley focus to the pursuit of success on backstroke.

The World title was in the bag in 1min 54.15 after a tight tussle across five lanes, Murphy, the reigning 100m champion and double Olympic champion of 2016, setting the pace to the half-way mark, the double calling.

There was nothing in, a 0.22sec gap between Kos and Murphy at the first turn the biggest until the clock stopped with the Hungarian 0.69sec ahead of the American on 1:54.83, Switzerland’s Roman Mityukov delivering an historic bronze for his country in 1:55.34. Mewen Tomac of France and Benedek Kovaks of Hungary also got inside 1:56 for fourth and fifth.

The Result in Full:


Kos Vs Murphy A Race Far From The Bane Of Backstrokers Barred From Fukuoka

When news reached Japan of a 23.55 World-record 50m backstroke swum by Kliment Kolesnikov at a meet in Russia yesterday, European broadcasters were among those questioning World Aquatics’ decision to ratify any standards in conditions that are not being overseen by independent international observers for competition, nor, perhaps, anti-doping.

The women’s 200m breaststroke unfolded with a Russian world record set earlier this year marked on the start list.

Kolesnikov’s time is also likely to be ratified. In the 100m at the Russian meet, he finished in the world’s top time of the year, faster than Murphy and the winning time in Fukuoka. Such things are not comparable, of course. Meets unfold in different conditions and Kolesnikov will not have felt the same sense of expectation and nervousness over a domestic knockabout in calm conditions far from the demands of a World Championship.

Evgeny Rylov, second left, at the Putin propaganda rally on Friday, March 18, 2022 – there is no telling quite what is going through the hearts and minds of the athletes in a snap shot but it is fair to say that at the moment of the snap, there were significant differences between the moods of the athletes about to be paraded as symbols of nationalistic pride at a time when Ukraine is bathing in blood and destruction – Twitter

Kolesnikov finished at the helm of a 100m back ahead Evgeny Rylov, a double Olympic champion at the heart of controversy over the Z symbol he wore on his sports kit at a Putin rally and because of remarks by Ukraine’s Mykhailo Romanchuk, a former friend, that highlights why the IOC and other sports organisations will be held accountable for any horrors that may unfold as a consequence of letting Russians and Belarusians back into international competitions on the way to and including the Paris Olympics if the war is still raging in Ukraine and even if Russia has failed to make clear that it intends to pay reparation costs to a sovereign country its bombed out of its home and infrastructure.

There’s no sign of any such peace and reparation as things stand. Athletes are caught in the middle but there’s a serious case for maintaining a ban on all Russians and Belarusians in the same way it would have been unthinkable for sport to allow South African athletes free reign as long as the flag was not the national one in times of apartheid.

The precedents set by that dark era are also relevant when it comes to swimming records. Despite Karen Muir never having been given the chance to compete for Olympic honours, she was allowed to hold world records and those are celebrated to this day.

In the same way, provided that independent observers confirm that international rules were observed, including everything from the length of the pool to the accuracy of timing systems and the follow-up doping controls required after a World record is established, then the standard should join every other up there for the breaking.

Sticks and stones and words that can never hurt, the presence of people from an aggressor nation and a time on a piece of paper. There’s a difference – as long as the conditions at the meets in Russia can be confirmed to have met required 2023 standards and protocols.

There is doubt far and wide in the swimming community about Russia and the way it trades with the world and the world in sport, the war one thing, the doping record another.

Ryan Murphy raised the issues and his concerns at the Olympic Games when Rylov claimed the double. Controversy reigned and the American got clobbered with accusations of sour grapes. The timing was certainly awkward for some but Murphy had a point.

In the last decade as we approached Kazan 2015, then FINA (now in the midst of a reform process and rebranded World Aquatics) paid a PR outfit in the UK $150,000 to promote FINA and its partnership with Russia (aka then president of Fina Maglione’s friendship with Putin and the tolerance of all around the Uruguayan, including Americans still high up in the control centre of aquatics). The plan involved a mission to “discredit” various folk, including this author, senior coaches and the like and use Michael Phelps as a poster boy (which didn’t come to pass, the entourage and swimmer far too street wise to let it happen).

I’m still waiting for an apology because everything I wrote about Russia and its appalling anti-doping record at the time, including two unreported eco positives among teenage boys, was correct and remains so.

Reform processes cannot wipe away the sins of those involved but those in the reform process can learn, make reparations of their own and ensure the same mistakes are never made again.

Until Ukraine is sovereign and free and on its way to being rebuilt, no Russians should make it back to the sporting arena that Putin has used for propaganda and would do so again given half the chance, the likes of Rylov a pawn in his horrid game.

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