Mon, September 23, 2013

Beijing still stings for Brent Hayden

Canadian swimmer moves on to 100-metre freestyle semifinal

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Brent Hayden checks his time after his men's 100-metre freestyle heat during the London 2012 Olympic Games, July 31, 2012. (DAVID GRAY/Reuters)


LONDON - The memories of Beijing still sting for Brent Hayden and will be fresh on the Canadian swimmer’s mind when he jumps in the pool again Tuesday night.

The three-time Olympian from B.C. easily moved on to the semifinal stage of the men’s 100-metre freestyle event Tuesday morning when he had the fifth fastest time of 56 swimmers. Hayden finished third in his heat in a time of 48.53 seconds.

But it will be in the semifinals that Hayden will look to avenge his performance four years ago, a crushing disappointment for one of Canada's top medal hopes in China.

Trying to be too cute by conserving energy for another race, Hayden had the 11th fastest time in the semis and didn’t move on for a bid for his first Olympic medal.

“I’m holding nothing back,” Hayden said after his morning race in front of another fool house at the London Aquatic Centre. “I made that mistake in Beijing because I had a relay that night and it just kind of played into my head.

“Combine that with too much confidence being world champion the year before. I thought I had room to save energy. I wasn’t focussed on just getting into the final and making sure it happened.”

The fact that Hayden has had to live with that error in judgement for the past four years has eaten away at him. He went into China having captured the event at the world championships in Melbourne, Australia in a Canadian record time of 48.43.

Since then, he’s had some strong showings including a silver at last year’s worlds in Shanghai. In what will be his third and final Olympics, he has a final shot at a medal, one of three Swimming Canada has targeted from the pool.

“I’m just not going to make that mistake again,” Hayden said. “Tonight could be the last time I race an individual 100-metre freestyle. I’ve got to race like it’s muy last race.”

Two other Canadian swimmers advanced to the semifinal stage in their events with solid swims Tuesday morning. Scott Dickens of Burlington, Ont., qualified 13th in the men's 200-metre breaststroke while Audrey Lacroix was 15th in the women's 200-metre butterfly.

Also at the pool tonight, American swimmer Michael Phelps will attempt to equal then pass Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina’s record 18 Olympic medals. Phelps is at 17 right now and will be favoured in both the 200-metre butterfly and 4x200-metre freestyle relay.

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/longleysunsport