LONDON (ISN) – Brent Hayden of Mission, B.C., made history Wednesday as he won the bronze medal in the men’s 100-metre freestyle at the Olympic Games in a race in which less than a second separated the eight finalists.
It is Canada’s first swimming medal of these Games and the first time ever a Canadian has stepped on the podium for the 100 freestyle at the Olympics.
”I never thought I could love lane seven so much,” said Hayden, who kissed the lane’s starting block when he emerged from the water after the race. ”Tonight it was about digging down deep right into my soul. Physically I wasn’t that fast but emotionally and spiritually I had that extra push.”
Nathan Adrian of the U.S., won the gold medal in 47.52 seconds edging James Magnussen of Australia in second at 47.53. Hayden, the 2007 world champion competing at this third Olympics, touched third in 47.80.
It was a long day for Hayden heading into his evening final. He battled nerves and a sore back and thanked the support staff for keeping him adjusted for his big race.
”It was so nerve-wracking today, I woke up at 6 a.m., with my heart just pounding because I was thinking about the race” said Hayden. ”It took me awhile to turn that off. But throughout the day those thoughts returned and I just kept calming myself down.
Hayden’s coach Tom Johnson says his star pupil had his race plan set.
”I knew he had to go out fast and get out on the front,” Johnson. ”He’s been saving that front end all through the meet, not really showing his hand. I knew the speed was there and I just impressed upon him that he had to use it.
”It’s experience. He’s been one of the best 100 freestyle swimmers the last six years and to fight back after the disappointments of the last two Olympics shows that if you believe in yourself great things can happen.”
Brent Hayden of Mission, BC, makes history tonight by winning Canada’s First ever-Olympic medal in the 100 m freestyle. Hayden, who won bronze, was awarded the medal by Richard Pound, the only other Canadian to make the 100 free finals at the Olympics. Photo: Ian Macnicol/Swimming Canada
Canada also challenged for a medal in the women’s 4X200 freestyle relay finishing fourth. The U.S., set an Olympic record for the gold in 7:42.92 followed by Australia at 7:44.41 and France in third at 7:47.49.
Barbara Jardin of Montreal, Samantha Cheverton of Pointe-Claire, Que., Amanda Reason of Windsor, Ont., and Brittany MacLean of Etobicoke, Ont., followed in 7:50.65.
”We’re happy with the result and fourth place is a great accomplishment,” said Cheverton. ”I’m proud of how we held ourselves together and how it worked out.”
In the semifinals, Martha McCabe of Toronto qualified seventh for the women’s 200 breaststroke final in 2:24.09. She won the bronze medal last year at the world championships.
Canada’s three other semifinalists did not advance. Julia Wilkinson of Stratford, Ont., ranked 13th in the women’s 100 freestyle in 54.25, Tobias Oriwol of Toronto ranked 14th in the men’s 200 backstroke in 1:58.74 and Andrew Ford of Guelph, Ont., ranked 15th in the 200 IM in 2:01.58.
”I really believed I could make that final,” said Wilkinson. ”I’m frustrated for sure. It’s hard to put in everything and not really get the result.”
Oriwol was also hoping to fare better.
”I’m disappointed,” said Oriwol. ”I had a personal best this morning and a third best tonight. To swim with the best in the world you have to have a better time in the evening.”