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Coutts heartbroken as relay team wins silver at World Champs

July 29, 2013
Emotional: Bronte Campbell consoles teammate Alicia Coutts. Photo: Getty Images

Emotional: Bronte Campbell consoles teammate Alicia Coutts. Photo: Getty Images

Australia’s Cate Campbell-inspired sprint relay team has rallied around a heartbroken Alicia Coutts, who felt she’d cost it world championships gold in Barcelona.

Australia’s women fell agonisingly short of repeating their London Olympic heroics as they claimed silver on Sunday behind the US in the 4x100m freestyle final, while the James Magnussen-led men’s team again came up empty-handed.

The women’s team went out under world record pace and led for most of the race after Campbell’s spectacular opening leg of 52.33 seconds, the fastest ever 100m swim in a textile suit.

But iron woman Coutts, in her third event of the night and fifth of the day, was narrowly overhauled on the final leg by American Megan Romano.

Coutts, Australia’s star of the London Games with five medals, burst into tears after the race.

“I can honestly say for the first time in my career I feel like I’ve let them down,” Coutts said.

But her teammates – Cate and Bronte Campbell and Emma McKeon – immediately consoled an emotional Coutts – insisting they wouldn’t have won silver without her.

“Alicia just did three (races) in one night, the most that anyone’s going to do in our entire team,” said Bronte Campbell, who teamed up with her sister at a major international event for the first time.
Kate Campbell, right, consoles Coutts.

“She anchored our relay and did a cracking job and hasn’t let anyone down in the whole world.”

McKeon, 19, vindicated her selection for the final with a cracking third leg but it was Cate Campbell’s swim that would have shocked her rivals for the individual 100m event.

“I knew I was quick going in but I didn’t think I was that quick,” said Campbell, who smashed Libby Trickett’s Australian record, set in a supersuit at the 2009 world championships in Rome.

“… It is beyond my wildest dreams to share this with my closest family and we all did a fantastic job.”

The Missy Franklin-led US team won in three minutes and 32.31 seconds, ahead of Australia (3:32.43) and the Netherlands (3:35.77).

Australia’s defending champion men’s team of Magnussen, Cameron McEvoy, Tommaso D’Orsogna and James Roberts clocked 3:11.58 to be fourth in a blanket finish, the same finish they managed in London after going in as hot favourites.

France won in 3:11.18 ahead of the US (3:11.42) and Russia (3:11.44), the same order as in London.

Magnussen was disappointed with his 48.00 opening leg and said he may have got carried away chasing American Nathan Adrian (47.95), who pipped him for individual 100m gold in London.

Adrian sizzled over the opening 50 but both men ultimately produced times considerably slower than their best.

“Not my best … I probably chased a little bit too early and burned my legs a bit early,” Magnussen said.

With D’Orsogna the oldest member of Australia’s team at 22, they were taking positives out of the performance.

“It’s really looking good for the future,” Roberts said.

Earlier, Christian Sprenger underlined his favouritism for the 100m breaststroke with a superb swim of 59.23 in the semi-finals.

He’ll head into Monday’s final more than half a second ahead of his nearest rivals.

“It’s anyone’s game when it comes to the final but I’ve put myself in a good position,” Sprenger said.

Teenager Jordan Harrison (3:48.40) did an admirable job in his first major international final, finishing tied sixth in the men’s 400m freestyle behind China’s Olympic champion Sun Yang (3:41.59).

Kylie Palmer (4:08.13) was eighth in the women’s 400m final, won by 16-year-old American Katie Ledecky (3:59.82).

On a gruelling opening night for Coutts, she backed up for two semi-finals in the space of 25 minutes to be third-fastest into both Monday night’s 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley finals.

Emily Seebohm also booked a spot on the 200IM final but withdrew to focus on her pet event, the 100m backstroke.



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