LONDON (Reuters) - Australia’s Emily Seebohm, still riding a wave of excitement after winning a relay gold medal on the opening day of the Olympic swimming competition, upstaged American teenager Missy Franklin on Sunday to top the qualifiers for the women’s 100 meters backstroke final.
Seebohm came agonizingly close to breaking the world record when she won her heat in 58.23 seconds, just 0.11 outside the world record set by Britain’s Gemma Spofforth at the 2009 world championships in Rome, then topped the semi-finals with a time of 58.39.
“In Beijing, I did qualify ninth after the semis, so I‘m actually just really happy to be in the final,” Seebohm said. “I haven’t felt this good since 2010, pre the swine flu and all the hard stuff I dealt with last year.”
Franklin, the rising talent of the American women’s team, was second fastest overall in 59.12 with Japan’s Aya Terakawa third in 59.34 as the eight swimmers through to Monday’s final all broke a minute.
“You can’t take any chances, we are at the Olympics,” Franklin said.
“Emily’s race was unbelievable but I have no control over her and what she does. The only thing I can control is myself.”
Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Greg Stutchbury