Melbourne teenager Ahmed Kelly showed why he is being touted as a strong gold medal prospect at next year’s London Paralympic Games, when he shattered his own SB3 100m breaststroke world record tonight at the 2011 Australian Swimming Championships in Sydney.
The 19-year-old was simply outstanding at Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, hitting the wall in a time of 1:50.55 to eclipse his previous world mark of 1:51.00 set in January. The world record still is subject to approval by IPC Swimming.
It was enough to clinch the 100m breaststroke multi-class national title from 2008 Paralympian Blake Cochrane, who equalled the SB7 world record (1.21.79) on his way to claiming silver. Two-time Paralympian Matt Levy (SB7) won bronze in a time of 1:24.29.
“That really took it out of me but I finally broke 1:51.00 so it was fantastic. I couldn’t be happier,” Kelly said.
“The second 50 metres let me down in my heat here so I wanted to work really hard on my back end speed in that race.
“I am just so excited, and hopefully that is one step closer to achieving my goal of competing at the London Paralympics.”
While Kelly’s performance was deserving of the spoils, Cochrane’s display despite his limited preparation was equally impressive.
“It felt really quick but when I saw the time I was a little bit disappointed. To go another tenth of a second quicker and beat that world record would have been very nice,” Cochrane said.
“My preparation hasn’t been amazing because of my university commitments so to swim that fast is a good indicator for the year ahead.
“But all credit to Ahmed. He works very hard to get his times down so I’m very happy for him.
“It’s always good to have that competition. You always know that you have to put in the time and effort to get the reward and I know Ahmed has put in a lot of time and a lot of effort.”
In the women’s multi-class 100m breaststroke, Kayla Clarke (S14) upstaged defending national champion Tanya Huebner (S6) to claim victory.
Huebner (1:41.88) dramatically lowered her 2010 winning time of 1:46.88, but it was only enough to claim silver as Clarke battled hard to snatch the national title in a time of 1:25.19. Amanda Fowler (S14) won bronze with her time of 1:29.34.
The night’s final race saw Kara Leo (4:49.57) defeat her S14 rival and defending national champion Nerice Holland (4:55.98) in the women’s multi-class 400m freestyle.
Leo led from the start but couldn’t shake the threat from Holland until inside the final 100m. The 18-year-old from NSW then saved her fastest lap until last to power to a commanding victory. Holland managed to hold on for silver, just edging out Beijing Paralympian Jacqui Freney (S8) who took bronze with a time of 5:01.99.