INVERURIE’S own swimming star Hannah Miley’s Olympic adventure may have ended without her managing to win that elusive Olympic medal, but infectious enthusiasm and effervescent personality is sure to have won over a host of new fans.
Hannah’s quest for an Olympic medal began on Saturday (July 28), the opening day of the games, in her favourite event the 400m Individual Medley. Having been hotly tipped for a medal after winning silver in the World Aquatics Championship in China, most were expecting the event to be a fight between Hannah and her old rivals, reigning Olympic champion Australia’s Stephanie Rice, and the United States’ Elizabeth Beisel, who beat Hannah in the event at China. But this was before the appearance of China’s latest teenage swimming sensation, 16 year old Ye Shiwen.
Hannah qualified for the final sixth fastest in the heats in 4:34.98 and gave a typically gutsy performance in the final, but no one was quite prepared for the sensational victory by Ye Shiwen, who not only claimed gold but smashed the World Record, finishing in 4:28.43 more than a second faster than Stephanie Rice’s previous time. Beisel took silver in 4:31.27, with another Chinese swimmer Li Xuanxu claiming bronze in 4:32.91. Hannah finished fifth, with a trademark gutsy performance, in a time of 4:34.17. ahead of her old rival Rice.
Following the race Hannah said that she she couldn’t have given it anymore, adding, “I’m gutted I didn’t medal obviously but I know I couldn’t have given any more – that was everything I had
“It was a really solid swim. It could have been a lot worse so I’m happy that I gave it all.”
The watching world were taken aback by the Chinese swimmers performance, especially the fact that she swam the final 50m in 28.93, quicker than men’s gold medal winner Ryan Lochte, whose corresponding time was 29.10.
There was some speculation over whether the teenager could have made such a swim without the aid of performance enhancing drugs, but this was quickly quashed, with British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan pointing out that she had been subject to the same stringent testing as all other athletes at the games.
On Monday, (July 30) Hannah was back in the pool for qualifying for her less favoured 200m Individual Medley. She put in a fantastic performance to finish second in her semi-final in 2:10.89 behind Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu. Ye Shiwen was hot favourite for the event, setting a new Olympic Record time in the other semi-final.
Hannah received a another rapturous welcome from the home crowd as she stepped out for Tuesday nights final, but despite another determined performance in the outside lane, she had to settle for seventh place in a time of 2:11.29, someway off her Britsih and Commonwealth Record time of 2:08.79.
Ye Shiwen set yet another Olympic Record to win the race in 2:07.57 with Australia’s Alicia Coutts taking silver and Caitlin Leverenz of the United States the bronze.
Following the race Hannah remained upbeat. She thanked the crowd, and everyone at home, for their support and added, “I’m so happy that was able to make the final. Last time I came away being 11th in the world and now I’m seventh in the world so I can’t knock that.
“I’m really chuffed with how this meet has gone – it’s been so much better than Beijing for me.”
And although she had just competed in three days of gruelling swimming she said, that following a break and some well deserved time away from the pool time off, she was looking forward to getting back to training!