Mon, September 23, 2013

Swimmer Ryan Cochrane eyes Olympic medal

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canada's Ryan Cochrane practices at the Aquatics Centre in London, England, July 26, 2012. (TIM WIMBORNE/Reuters)


LONDON - Big things are expected of Canadian Ryan Cochrane when the Olympic swimming meet ends eight days from now.

But don't take your eyes off of him when the first medals are handed out Saturday night at the Olympic Aquatic centre.

While the buzz of the official opening day of the Games will be on the gold-medal battle between American stars Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the 400-metre individual medley, Cochane believes he can get the show off to a flying start for Canada in a different event.

Though the 23-year-oldıs bread and butter event is the 1,500 metre freestyle which he took bronze in Beijing four years ago, the 400 free is a race that he has been improving in steadily. After a fifth in last year's world championships, Cochrane believes he is ready to challenge in that event as well and is anxious to prove it Saturday.

"My turns have been getting much better the last few months and if I can translate that into my race, I can make up enough ground," said Cochrane, the Canadian record holder. "Four years ago, the 400 was a bonus event for me, but I don't look at it that way this time around. I've been improving every year. I feel like I can contend and making the podium has been the plan all along."

The battle for the top of the podium in the menıs 400 IM will be one of the main focus events of the entire opening day of competition. It will be the first of seven events for Phelps, who is looking to add to his haul of 14 Olympic golds but will need to turn the table on Lochte, who defeated him in the race at the U.S. trials last month. Lochte and Phelps will only compete head-to-head twice in the Games.

While Cochrane is focussed on his own events, he admits it will be difficult not to follow the American duo.

"It's absolute craziness, it blows my mind what they are capable of," Cochrane said. "I think there are going to be world records broken and (the American duo) will be a part of that. It makes me work harder every single day because I think 'If they can do that, why can't I?' "

Cochrane look for a strong start on Saturday and an even better finish eight days later.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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