He has done it again! Ryan Cochrane won Canada's first gold medal in swimming for the Men's 400m final during the 2014 Commonwealth Games on Thursday in Glasgow.
The star from Victoria proved that he can perform under pressure, as the expectations were high for Cochrane following his gold medal for the 400m Freestyle during the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010. With his gold medal secured, Cochrane became only the second swimmer after Australia's Ian Thorpe to successfully defend his title in this event.
After the heats in the morning Cochrane said; "If I try to race to my competitor's strengths I suffer, so that's what I have been working on the last couple of years."
Boy did that quote hold true! Cochrane kept the crowd on its toes as he showed great late speed to charge down top-seeded Australian David McKeon on the final length. After slightly trailing behind McKeon for the first 350 meters, Cochrane kicked up the horsepower and managed to win the race within the last lap. "From start to finish I focused on what I do well instead of what other people do well and tried to play catch-up." The fact that McKeon set out at a blistering speed didn't seem to throw Cochrane off his game plan. "I went out and he went out a little harder," said Cochrane, gold medal in hand. "He was pretty far ahead at the 300 and I just had to make sure I didn't get out of control and be smooth and comfortable and use that excitement for my benefit."
Although not his first gold medal for this event at the Commonwealth Games, this medal perhaps has an extra shiny rim as Cochrane won with a new Canadian record at 3:43:46, the fastest time in the world this year. "I've been trying to go best time since the Beijing Olympics. That's been hard year after year," he said. "This time I am ecstatic to go best time. It is a swim I am really really proud of."
Cochrane's celebrations will have to be short and sweet tonight as he prepares to swim the first event on Friday, the 200m Freestyle, together with teammate Coleman Allen. "The 200 will be exciting. It'll be a splash and a dash. It's short for me but I'll take what I learnt from tonight and hopefully that will make me that much faster in the morning."
Another highlight of the night was the women's 4x100m Freestyle relay, with Canada winning a bronze medal. The team of Victoria Poon, Sandrine Mainville, Michelle Williams and Alyson Ackman turned in a time of 3:40, a fantastic achievement, especially in a race that saw Australia set a world record at 3:30:98. "All four girls performed well. It's the first relay and hopefully we will perform even better in the next," said Victoria Poon. "We knew Australia would try and swim a world record so we tried our best to stay with them but of course it's really hard." The girls can be proud of their solid bronze medal in this thrilling race.
In other finals action, Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson just fell just short of a medal in the first event of the evening, coming in fourth in the women's 400m individual medley, swimming a personal best. The 16 year old Emily Overholt finished fifth at 3:37.89, a new Canadian age group record (15-17) for Canada's youngest national team member. Marni Oldershaw was sixth in 4:46.26.
Brittany MacLean and Sam Cheverton finished in fifth and seventh in the women's 200m freestyle final.Canada also performed well in the semifinals that took place Thursday. Katerine Savard advanced as second in the 200m butterfly while Audrey Lacroix is placed seventh. Tera Van Beilen advanced third to the 50m Breaststroke finals, and Russell Wood moved on in the seventh spot in the men's 100m Backstroke.
Out of 16 swims for Canada, 12 progressed from heats to finals. What a performance in the pool on day one of the Commonwealth Games!