Fri, September 20, 2013

Ryan Cochrane cruises into 1,500-metre Olympic final

By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency


Canada's Ryan Cochrane swims in the men's 1500-metre freestyle heats atthe London 2012 Olympic Games, Aug. 3, 2012. (JORGE SILVA/Reuters)


LONDON - So far, it's been quite a week for Ryan Cochrane, but the Victoria swimmer plans to end it in style.

Cochrane won his heat in the men's 1,500-metre freestyle event Friday morning and advanced to Saturday night's final where he hopes to upgrade the bronze medal he won in the event four years ago in Beijing.

The 1,500 is Cochrane's strongest event, one that he is expected to earn a medal in, but the B.C. native came to London hoping to have a shot at a pair. Those plans unravelled when he was bounced from the final of the 400 metres after qualifying eighth and then pushed back to ninth when South Korean Park Tae-hwan was reinstated after a disqualification.

"I was disappointed after the 400, I knew it was a lost opportunity," Cochrane said, referring not to the ruling but to the fact that he cut it too close with his time. "My hope is to win two medals here.

"All of us are vying for that (gold.) I just want to put together a race that I'm proud of."

In his 1,500-metre heat, Cochrane wasn't going to leave anything to chance winning the race comfortably and qualifying third overall. But even that involved a little cat and mouse strategy over the course of the long-distance event. The goal was to advance to the final but also to keep some fuel in the tank for the medal race.

"I needed a good time this morning and at the same time make it as easy possible so I'm happy with that," Cochrane said.

Cochrane's race is part of what London organizers are calling Super Saturday, a full schedule throughout the Games in which 25 gold medals will be awarded, the swimming meet ends and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt makes his celebrated first steps onto the track.

Canada qualified another finalist in the pool when the 4x100 medley relay team snuck in with the eighth fastest time. The foursome includes Brent Hayden, fresh off his bronze medal in the 100M free on Wednesday, Charles Francis, Scott Dickens and Joe Bartoch.

The relay is likely to be the final race of Hayden's Olympic career, one that ended in triumph with his electrifying medal. Now it's time for the young guard to take over, a role Cochrane is anxious to claim.

"It's all about making the next step," Cochrane said in an interview with QMI Agency earlier in the week. "Four years ago, I wanted to make the podium and that was my goal. This time I want to be on top. I see it as a natural progression."

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

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