Fri, September 20, 2013

Canada's Ryan Cochrane swims to silver in 1,500M freestyle

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency


Ryan Cochrane poses with his silver medal following the 1,500m freestyle race at the 2012 Olympic Games in London on Aug. 4, 2012. (DAVE ABEL, QMI Agency)


LONDON - Ryan Cochrane just can't win.

The Victoria swimmer earned a hard-fought silver in the 1,500 metre freestyle Saturday in yet another controversial race in which eventual winner Sun Yang of China escaped disqualification after false start.

Sun, who broke his own world record, apparently was distracted by crowd noise and dove in early, but officials let him remain in the race, which he won in 14 minutes, 31.02 seconds.

The silver served as vindication for Cochrane, who was aiming to be a contender in the 400-metre freestyle a week earlier but was bumped from the final by Beijing 2008 gold medallist Taehwan Park of South Korea.

Park's disqualification for a false start in the heats was overturned on appeal and he eventually won silver. But on Saturday night, Cochrane got a degree of revenge when Park finished fourth.

"This meet was probably the hardest I've been to," Cochrane said. "There were world records, the fastest field I've seen in a while."

Cochrane, the bronze medallist in the race at Beijing 2008, fended off a challenge from defending Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia to finish second in 14:39.63.

Cochrane said that during the last leg, he thought to himself: "the first half was easy, you've got no excuse."

Sun, whose margin of victory over 23-year-old Cochrane was more than seven seconds, also won gold in the 400-metre freestyle on opening day in the London pool and set the previous world record of 14:34.14 at the 2011 world championships in Shanghai where Cochrane was also the runner-up.

With Cochrane's silver and the bronze won a week earlier by Mission, B.C.'s Brent Hayden in the men's 100-metre freestyle, Canada had its first multi-medal Olympics in the pool since Atlanta 1996 when Curtis Myden had a pair of bronzes and Marianne Limpert a silver.

Also Saturday, Canada's men's 4 x 100 metre medley relay team finished last in the Olympic swansong for American great Michael Phelps. The U.S. defended its title and Phelps collected his historic 22nd Olympic medal and 18th gold to cap the Olympic swim meet.

Cochrane also overcame a pickpocketing incident on Wednesday when he was returning to his hotel. Good Samaritans caught the thief and returned to Cochrane his iPod.