BUDAPEST, Hungary – As she stepped to the top of the podium Wednesday, 17-year-old Jade Hannah reflected on the relentless training, aching muscles and daily dedication that led her to this special moment.
The Halifax native, who trains out of Swimming Canada’s High Performance Centre – Victoria, won the gold medal in the women’s 100-m backstroke at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships in Budapest.
“It felt really good because I realize how hard I had to work to get back to where I was,” Hannah said.
“Top step on the podium is so amazing because I know all of the hard work I put in to get there.”
Hannah, who won the 100 in a time of 59.63, was back in the water less than an hour later to help the 4x100m medley relay team capture a bronze medal.
“To stand up there again with the best team and the great support team that we have was also amazing,” Hannah said. “It was an incredible day.”
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Finlay Knox of Okotoks, Alberta placed second in the men’s 200-m individual medley with a time of 1:59.44, It’s the second-fastest 200 IM ever by a Canadian, just .25 off Keith Beavers’ mark of 1:59.19 set at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. American Carson Foster won in a championship record 1:58.46.
“I was very pleased with the race and I felt like my difficult training period helped me a lot,” Knox said. “I just gave it everything I had and executed the things I have been trained for. I’m pleased with the result.”
National Development Coach Ken McKinnon, Canada’s team leader at the championships, was proud of all his swimmers, noting they had a winning approach to the championships.
“The Canadian swimmers showed remarkable calmness before the races and their execution in the races has been excellent,” McKinnon said, adding that their hard work in preparing for the event has already paid off and he’s looking for more success during the final four days.
Others on the 4×100-m medley relay team were: Gabe Mastromatteo, Josh Liendo and Hanna Henderson. Liendo’s butterfly leg of 52.33 was second only to Russian Andrei Minakov and shot Canada into second place after 300 metres. Henderson then held on for bronze, out-touched by Russia’s Ekaterina Nikonova by .14 seconds for silver. Team USA took gold in a world junior record 3:44.84.
Liendo had a “lot of fun,” but admitted he started slowly in his fly before coming back with a strong finish.
Brooklyn Douthwright, who swam freestyle in the morning heats, will also receive a medal for helping Canada advance to the final.
Mastromatteo, of Kenora, Ont., celebrated the relay team’s bronze medal after a lifetime best breaststroke split of 1:00.58, but was a little disappointed with his fourth-place showing in the individual 100-m breast. Despite shaving another .09 seconds off the national 15-17 age group record he lowered in his semifinal Tuesday, his time of 1:00.69 was .14 behind American Kevin Houseman for bronze. Vladislav Gerasimenko of Russia won in 59.97, following by Team USA’s Josh Matheny.
“It was a best showing, but I still feel like I could have been a little faster even though you can’t predict how these things go,” Mastromatteo said. “Still, it was fun and it was great to get more experience at a meet like this.”
In other finals, Calgary’s Cole Pratt was sixth in a national 15-17 record 54.63 and Tyler Wall of Penticton, B.C., was eighth in the 100-m back in a personal best 55.41.
Liendo also qualified for Thursday’s 100-m butterfly final by advancing through semifinals in fifth spot with a time of 52.34. In the women’s 100m free semifinals, Hanna Henderson was 10th in 55.47 and Brooklyn Douthwright took 13th spot at 55.74 – both personal bests.
The championships continue through Sunday in the Hungarian capital.
Webcast link: https://www.finatv.live/