Could it be going any better for Britain? Probably not – here are some points from day 3 in Kazan
1. In James Guy Britain has uncovered a diamond
We knew he was talented. We knew he was in fine form after his 400m freestyle silver on day 1. We also knew he was fearless; he showed as much two years ago on his world championship debut when he took 5th in the 400 free. But did we think he was a 200m world champion? He was always podium potential, but a masterful display of pacing and racing delivered the Millfield teenager to the top of the world.
Outside observers may point to those not in Kazan as evidence of a soft final: Agnel, missing with illness; Park, serving a doping ban; and Fraser-Holmes, the commonwealth champion off colour at Australian trials and not picked. But you can only beat those in the pool and a field containing Lochte, Sun, Biedermann, le Clos and Mcevoy is hardly the Somerset U12 final.
A British record of 1:45.14 is a big step forward for Guy, but inevitably he will need to take further steps in Rio if he wants to replicate his trip to the top of the podium. Not that it will faze him; he’s so laid back he’s almost horizontal. “You’re having the meet of your life!” said the Eurosport interviewer. “Yes, I suppose I am” came the reply.
This is also a big boost for the men’s 4 x 200 relay who will really fancy their chances now. And who knows, we could see Guy in the medley relay too, his form is so irresistible he could swim the fly!
2. Maintaining the momentum is the secret for GB
As Britain continues its voyage in the upper reaches of the medal table – 3 days down and 5 medals secured, all of them in Olympic events – maintaining that momentum will be key. Those on the team of 2003 talked of the lift they got from the relentless acquisition of GB medals, so the squad should be boosted to build on a fabulous start. There will inevitably be sessions with less success, and how they deal with those will be the true measure of the team and staff. Some of the big guns have gone but there is still pleny of firepower remaining and it woud now be a shock not to see them eclipse the best ever perfromance of 8 medals at this level, set by that 2003 team.
3. The doping question won’t go away
When Sun Yang won the 400 free there was some grumbling about his doping ban earlier this year. When Yulia Efimova won the 100m breaststroke it’s fair to say that there was less than universal acclaim. Certainly Ruta Meilutyte in the adjacent lane was not quick to congratulate her rival and Andy Jameson was heard to say on the BBC “I don’t know what drugs do but…” in reference to Efimova’s closing burst.
Whatever your view on the offence Efimova was found to have committed, the fact that the Russian is just back from a curtailed doping ban that conveniently left her free to compete at a home world championships leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Add to that the fact she was front and centre in the advertising campaign for these championships, mid-ban, and you start to wonder about the politics of the situation. Having two world champions with doping bans so fresh in the memory, and swimming as though they were never away, cannot be good for the sport.
4. Peaty’s fast start spares LEN and FINA’s blushes
One dive, one breakout, much better than the day before, and it was on. 26.42 seconds later, the fuss over his record from last year’s European championships was forgotten and Adam Peaty regained his rightful place in the record books. Someone, somewhere within the Berlin 2014 organisers breathed a huge sigh of relief. Peaty will renew his battle with Cameron van der Burgh in the final, the South African having equalled the “world record” in the heats.