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The start of something extraordinary

Gichard and Wilrich make it double gold medals

Kiwi swimmers Bobbi Gichard and Wilrich Coetzee both grabbed their second gold medals on the penultimate night of finals at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa.

Gichard, 15, who won the 100m backstroke final and was third in the recent junior world championship, produced a stunning performance to win the 200m backstroke.

The Greendale club swimmer from Hawkes Bay clocked an outstanding 2:10.02 to win the final, nearly three seconds clear of her nearest rival.

Her time was only 27/100ths of a second outside the FINA A Olympic qualifying time that she will need to reach at next year’s open championships. It was also the fastest time ever recorded by a New Zealand age group swimmer 18 years and under.

“I am not sure how the good time happened. I was thinking about how to get a podium. I thought it felt like a 2:12 or 2:13,” Gichard said. “I was really stoked with that because I have been trying o get down to 2:10 for two years now so I am very happy with my time.

“I am so happy with our team and our performances with a lot of medals. We are going well.”

Coetzee from the North Shore club showed his strength and stamina in bucket-loads tonight. Thew 18 year old clocked 54.48 to win the 100m butterfly  after a belter of a final. Equal second at the 50m turn, Coetzee powered home to win by just 7/100th of a second to Australia’s Brayden McCarthy with a further 35/100ths back to South Africa’s Brendan Levy.

It was a personal best for Coetzee, who after a delay in his podium presentation, had to step back in the pool for the 200m backstroke final where he finished fourth but clipped 3.5 seconds off his previous best.

“I am so pleased. It is a really good achievement. I just wanted to double up from the 200m butterfly and to be able to get back on top of the podium is a real honour for me. To listen to our national anthem again – that feeling is unbelievable,” Coetzee said. “It’s good to get a personal best and to be able to swim it fresh tonight I got the most out of it. I am really stoked with the outcome.

“If I had a longer rest in the 200m backstroke I think I could have brought it back more but I am really pleased with a PB though.”

Coach Gary Hurring is impressed with the standard and approach of the New Zealand swimmers.

“The coaching staff are rapt with the team. They are all in good spirits, they are all producing good swims and they are backing up,” Hurring said. “They are getting within one percent of the best times in most cases in the morning and coming back to better that at night and in a number of cases bringing home medals for New Zealand.”

It brought New Zealand’s tally to nine meals including five gold medals to be second in the medal tally behind Australia.

There was nearly more medals than this tonight with three fourth placings to Coetzee in the 200m backstroke, and both the men and women in the 4x100m freestyle relays.

Annabelle Paterson was fifth in the 200m backstroke, not quite able to match her excellent swim from the morning heats where she topped all qualifiers.

Yeonsu Lee was eighth in the 100m butterfly in 1:03.49 and Mario Koenigsperger was fifth in the 50m breaststroke in 30.37s.

Tomorrow’s final day of competition will see two swimmers double up with Lee in the 200m individual medley and 50m freestyle and Koenigsperger in the 50m freestyle and 200m breaststroke.

In other swims Bayley Main and Fa’amausili compete in the 50m freestyle, Coetzee in the 200m individual medley and Eliot Lundon-Moore in the 200m breaststroke.

Day 3 finals results:

Men 50m breaststroke: Fu Kang Wong (MAS) 28.92, 1; James Isemonger (RSA) 29.20, 2; Kieran Preston (SCO) 30.18, 3. Also Mario Koenigsperger (NZL) 30.37, 5.

Women 100m butterfly: Gemma Cooney (AUS) 59.32, 1; Lucia Lassman (AUS) 1:00.21, 2; Tain Bruce (SCO) 1:00.83, 3. Also: Yeonsu Lee (NZL) 1:03.49, 8.

Men 100m butterfly: Wilrich Coetzee (NZL) 54.48, 1; Brayden McCarthy (AUS) 54.55, 2; Brendan Levy (RSA)( 54.90, 3.

Women 200m backstroke: Bobbi Gichard (NZL) 2:10.87, 1; Nathania van Niekerk (RSA) 2:13.54, 2; Elyse Woods (AUS) 2:15.13, 3. Also: Annabelle Paterson (NZL) 2:16.60, 5.

Men 200m backstroke: Tristain Ludlow (AUS) 2:01.46, 1; Conor Ferguson (NIR) 2:03.90, 2; Neil Fair (RSA) 2:03.93, 3. Also: Wilrich Coetzee (NZL) 2:04.16, 4.

Women 4x100m freestyle relay: Australia 3:45.16, 1; Wales 3:50.11, 2; England 3:50.83, 3. Also: New Zealand 3:53.91, 4.

Men 4x100m freestyle relay: Australia 3:19.70, 1; England 3:28.10, 2; South Arica 3:33.11, 3. Also: New Zealand 3:35.38, 4.

CAPTIONS: Bobbi Gichard on her way to rictory in the 200m backstroke on day three of the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa.

The images is free for editorial use. Credit: Amanda Stead.