London 2019: Reece Dunn dazzles on Worlds debut as GB sweep podium
Records tumble on opening day of Championships as hosts enjoy medal-laden start10 Sep 2019
By Amp Media | For World Para Swimming
Great Britain’s Reece Dunn continued his remarkable debut season as an elite Para swimmer by taking gold and lowering a world record he only set in June on the opening day of the London 2019 World Para Swimming Allianz Championships on Monday.
The 23-year-old Brit finished more than two seconds ahead of teammates Thomas Hamer and Jordan Catchpole as Great Britain swept the podium in the men’s 200m freestyle S14 event to the delight of a packed crowd at the London Aquatics Centre.
“I went into that final with a massive attitude of trying to improve on the time I did in Berlin a few months ago,” Dunn said after clocking 1:52.96.
“It was quite important to make a big impression, especially with this being my first major international with the team, so I’m feeling positive vibes.”
Shock defeat for Paralympic champion
In the surprise result of day one, Jiang Yuyan of China took the gold medal and world record from Paralympic champion Yelyzaveta Mereshko of Ukraine in the women’s 400m freestyle S6.
Jiang’s time of 5:13.32 was a second quicker than Mereshko’s own best mark set in 2016, as home favourite Eleanor Simmonds finished strongly to take bronze.
Rebecca Myers of the USA turned in an outstanding performance of her own on Monday in her first world championships since stepping up a class, setting a world record to win gold in the women’s 400m freestyle S12.
“I feel amazing right now - I can’t really put it into words,” Myers said on lowering her own previous best time to 4:22.34.
“It’s just so surreal being back on the podium again, especially after London 2012 when I won my first international Paralympic medal. I’m excited to be back up there again, reliving some memories and creating some new ones.”
Stunning win from Simone
In the men’s 100m freestyle S9, double world champion Simone Barlaam of Italy shaved eight hundredths-of-a-second off the world record to win gold in 54.10 seconds and extend his impressive run of form.
There was also more for the home crowd to cheer as Great Britain’s Alice Tai continued her exceptional year by winning the women’s 100m freestyle S8 gold medal by the huge margin of 2.31 seconds (1:03.77).
The 20-year-old blew away a strong field including the three-time Paralympic champion over the distance, USA’s Jessica Long, in the first of their six match-ups at London 2019.
“I’m pretty ecstatic,” Tai said. “The swim was a little bit slower than I hoped for as I screwed up on my turn, but that’s ok and I’m really happy to come away with a gold.”
In the women’s 100m freestyle S9, Sophie Pascoe of New Zealand was half a second outside her own world record as the London 2012 gold medallist pushed Spain’s Sarai Gascon into silver.
Australian Para swimming legend Ellie Cole was in second place at the turn but was overhauled by 16-year-old British swimmer Toni Shaw, who took the bronze on her world championships debut.
In the women’s 50m freestyle S11, there was no happy 19th birthday present for double Paralympic champion Liesette Bruinsma of Netherlands, as she had to settle for bronze behind Maryana Piddubna of Ukraine and China’s Ma Jia in a tight race.
In the penultimate final of Monday, Russia’s Andrei Granichka set the fifth world record of the day to win the men’s 100m breaststroke gold in a time of 1:27.15.