T&T’s George Bovell established a new national record in the men’s 100 metres individual medley, enroute to his first gold medal in the FINA/Arena Swimming Short Course World Cup, in Stockholm, Sweden, yesterday. The 29-year-old Bovell, swimming out of lane three, touched the wall in 51.56 seconds to beat Australians, Kenneth To (51.75) and Kyle Richardson (52.78), into second and third spot respectively. Bovell bettered his 51.87 which he clocked while claiming silver behind To (51.58) last week in Doha, Qatar while South Africa’s Darian Townsend got bronze in 52.76 seconds.
Townsend (53.04) was fourth, while Sweden’s Simon Sjodin (53.34), Brazil’s Henrique Rodrigues (53.39), Australian Tomasso D’Orsogna (53.49) and Japan’s Yuki Shirai (54.92) were the other finishers. Bovell said it felt really good to hit the top spot on the podium. “I bet a lot of Swedes now know about Trinidad and Tobago. I said I was going to win and I came out here tonight and backed that up with a new lifetime best time and new national record. “It was especially sweet beating the Australian after trailing for silver in this event in Doha and Dubai. The points score from this race was the highest of the night and the consistent high ranking positions have me in the running for the grand prize at the end of the series.”
The gold medal did not seem possible for the T&T swimmer at the half-way point, as he found himself in eighth spot with a split of 24.56 seconds, while To (23.47), Richardson (23.92) and Townsend (23.98) were in the medal positions. However, Bovell, a 2004 Olympic bronze medallist, turned up the heat in the second-half of the race with a 27 seconds race home to end To’s run of two-straight gold medals. Two weeks ago at the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Bovell had to settle for silver in the 100m IM in 52.19 seconds behind To (51.43) while Townsend again took bronze in 52.60.
In the heats, Rodrigues (53.33) finished ahead of Bovell (53.49), Sjodin (53.66) and Richardson (55.20) in heat four of five as the quartet all qualified for the gold medal splash. The others in the heat were Finland’s Sami Myren (55.45) and Ville Kallinen (57.28) as well as Sweden’s Axel Petterson (57.72) and Macedonia’s Stefan Stojmenovic (57.75). Overall To (53.20), who won the fifth and final heat ahead of Townsend (53.82), was the fastest qualifier from the heats while D’Orsogna (54.38) and Shirai (54.84) qualified from heat three.
Today, Bovell, who was seventh in the men’s 50m freestyle at the London Olympic Games will also try to end a run of two straight silver medal finishes in the same event. “I will face down my rival, American Olympic Gold medalist and fellow 50-free finalist in London in the 50-metre free here. “He has beaten me into second in the last two races by less than .05 of a second, so I know that he will not roll over and that he will bring my best out of me,” Bovell said.
In Doha, the top T&T swimmer sped home in 21.06 seconds, just behind USA’s Anthony Ervin who splashed to gold in 21.02 seconds, while Richardson got bronze in 21.54 seconds and a week earlier the trio also finished 1-2-3 in Dubia with Ervin winning in 21.18 seconds followed by Bovell (21.23) and Richardson (21.58).
Bovell will swim from lane four in heat six of seven against Holland pair, Geert Lantink and Jasper Van Mierlo, Swedish trio, Robin Andreasson, Stefan Nystrand and Petter Stymne, Toni Kurkinen of Finland and Singapore’s Kai Quan Yeo.
At the end of today’s event, Bovell will next compete in Moscow, Russia October 17-18; Berlin, Germany, October 20-21; Beijing, China (November 2-3); Tokyo, Japan (November 6-7) and Singapore, November 10-11.