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Sun Rises For Another Day Of Battle

Jul 26, 2011  - Craig Lord

Day 3 prelims, Oriental Sports Center, Shanghai

The third morning of heats is over, with no major misses, Sun Yang (CHN) the man to beat in the 800m final tomorrow, Michael Phelps on energy save mode in the 200m butterfly final ahead of tonight's 200m free battle and Federica Pellegrini (ITA) on her way to the defence of a second crown, in the 200m freestyle.

On the sidelines, an Iranian swimmer who withdrew from a heat at world championships here in Shanghai in which he would have raced an Israeli has insisted that the move was not political - he had jet lag.

"My flight was exactly the day before my race, so I was so tired and drowsy. Because I had to wait for my visa," Mohammed Alirezaei told The Associated Press this morning after the heats of the 50m breaststroke this morning.

World-class swimmers such as Therese Alshammar and others get off planes and boats and trains after long journeys and take the competitive plunge on a regular basis. Alirezaei is not in the same league, however, his attendance at the world titles part of a scheme in which FINA pays for developing nations to race at its showcase event. The Iranian finished 22nd and will go no further than heats.

The race he missed two days ago featured Gal Nevo of Israel. But Alirezaei told AP that he had "no problem" competing against Israeli athletes and had done so before. The record shows that he also pulled out of an event against another Israeli, Tom Beeri, in the 100m breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the IOC accepting an explanation then that he was ill.

Asked about the latest withdrawal, IOC president Jacques Rogge told the AP on Monday: "I'm sure knowing the rules of FINA, the athletes will have to explain why and that most likely the athletes will have to come up with very good reasons."

FINA executive director Cornel Marculescu is to seek an explanation from the Iranians, while Nevo told AP: "FINA should do something about it, because it doesn't look good. It embarrasses the whole competition. Me personally, I don't mind."

Iran does not recognize Israel and bans any contact with the Jewish state. In swimming, such things are forbidden under the rules of FINA that govern relationships between member federations. If Iran wants to be a player, it needs to play - and in the professional sports world they aspire to that means managing a 100m breaststroke the day after your plane arrives.

Prelim summaries

Men's 800m freestyle

Only Sun Yang (CHN) and Samuel Pizzetti (ITA) had cracked 7:50 this season before Shanghai. All eight who will race in the 16-lap final tomorrow needed to race inside that pace this morning, Sun on smooth cruise control as he booked lane 4 in 7:45.29 in heat seven, after watching the hero of the Faroes, Pal Joensen clock 7:45.55 and Ryan Cochrane (CAN) 7:45.57 in heat 5, with Chad La Tourette (USA) on 7:49.94. Gergo Kis (HUN) took heat 6 in 7:48.33 ahead of 1500m Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli (TUN) in 7:48.86, with European champion Sebastien Rouault on 7:49.43, and Pizzetti on 7:51.59 for seventh place overall. Sun was followed ohm in the last heat by Peter Vanderkaay, who gave the US a second slice of the action tomorrow in 7:49.13. Pizzetti was gone, as were several other big names, including Ryan Napoleon (AUS), Federico Colbertaldo (ITA) and Gergely Gyurta (HUN).

Men's 200m butterfly

Olympic champion Michael Phelps was into energy conservation this morning, qualifying in 11th spot for the semis of his signature 200m butterfly in 1:56.77 just 0.38sec away from the chop. A hint of a smile appeared on Phelps's face as he looked up at the scoreboard and then right to Wu Peng, the US-based Chinese swimmer who has beaten the American twice this season.

Knowing the target set by defending champion Phelps (who wants every ounce of power he can muster for the 200m free final) in heat 4, six in heat 5 went faster, including Dinko Jukic (AUT) faster through in 1:55.26 and knowing that back home he faces an anti-doping hearing after refusing to provide a sample to testers at his training pool on the grounds that he feared the conditions were not hygienic enough. 

Second through was another swimmer from a nation troubled by doping news, Brazilian Leonardo de Deus, on 1:55.55, followed by Bence Biczo, the Olympic youth champion from Hungary, on 1:55.71, and Tyler Clary (USA), on 1:55.95. 

Qualifiers: 1:55.26 - 1:57.03 - Jukic, De Deus, Biczo, Clary, Matsuda, Chen, Le Clos, Cseh, Korzeniowski, Cieslak, Phelps, Dimitriadis, Drymonakos, Almeida, Wu, Rock

Women's 200m freestyle

Allison Schmitt (USA) led the way on 1:56.66 from heat 6 and then watched defending champion Federica Pellegrini (ITA)  pull up alongside her on the clock, a 1:56.87 booking her into lane 4 of the first semi this evening. Between 1:57.37 and 1:58.01: Bronte Barratt (AUS), Agnes Mutina (HUN), Kylie Palmer (AUS), Femke Heemskerk (NED), Silke Lippok (GER), Lauren Boyle (NZL), Camille Muffat (FRA) and Sara Isakovic (SLO).  Among those who made the cut, Sarah Sjoestrom (SWE), the former 100m butterfly world champion. Among those who missed the cut: Veronika Popova (RUS), Morgan Scroggy (USA) and Joanne Jackson and Rebecca Adlington (GBR).

Japanese teammates Haruka Ueda and Hanae Ito raced off for the last place in the top 16 after both clocking 1:58.74, respectively in heats 6 and 7. Ueda got the touch and a third bite in 1:58.19, to 1:58.55 for Ito, saved faces all round with both swimming inside their first efforts of the morning.

Qualifiers: 1:56.66 - 1:58.74 - Schmitt, Pellegrini, Barratt, Mutina, Palmer, Heemskerk, Lippok, Boyle, Muffat, Isakovic, Costa, Sjoestrom, Jardin, Verraszto, Tang, Ueda. 

Men's 50m breaststroke

The morning after the monumental night before, Alex Dale Oen (NOR) swam a little outside his stunning split on the way to victory yesterday for a 27.51 in the wake of the man at the helm of the sixth heat on the way to semis, Felipe Silva (BRA), on 27.19, 0.01sec shy of the best ever in a textile suit. Most big guns, including defending champion Cameron Van Der Burgh (RSA), made it through, though Ryo Tateishi (JPN) missed the chop by 0.01sec, on 28.01. 

Qualifiers: 27.19; Silva; Markic, Dugonjic, Gangloff, Dale Oen, Snyders, Van Der Burgh, Feldwehr, Agache, Scozzoli, Triznov, Bartunek, Rickard, Siladji, Stekelenburg, Polyakov.