Mon, September 23, 2013

Reaching Olympic final a dream for Brent Hayden

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canada's Brent Hayden checks his time after his men's 100m freestyle semi-final during the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Aquatics Centre July 31, 2012. (David Gray/Reuters)


LONDON - Four long years since blowing a chance in Beijing and eight years after being a force on the world's elite swimming scene, Canada’s Brent Hayden is finally going to race for an Olympic medal.

The veteran B.C. Olympian and former world champion was paralyzed with emotion after qualifying sixth-fastest in the semi-finals of the men’s 100-metre freestyle event here Tuesday night to get a place in Wednesday’s final.

“This is what I’ve dreamed of since I was a little kid, you know,” Hayden said, his voice cracking and a long pause between thoughts. “Third Olympics. First individual final. It means everything.”

Hayden moved on despite a technically sloppy swim timed in 48.21. He was fourth in his heat, the deeper of the two to comfortablly move on. After finishing 11th in the semis four years ago in China as a medal contender, Hayden was determined not to end his Olympic career without a taste of a medal shot.

It didn’t come easy on Tuesday night, however as he had a shallow start, a goggle-strap that was too loose and misjudged the wall coming for home.

“All things aside, I’ve got a little room with the technical aspect,” said the 28-year-old, who finished second in the event at last year’s world championships. “I’m going to have to find even more speed by digging down deeper and finding something I’ve never tapped into before.”