Iron Lady digs deep for triple-dou­ble

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

BU­DA­PEST — Hun­gary’s ‘Iron Lady’ Katinka Hosszu ad­mit­ted feel­ing the strain af­ter re­tain­ing the women’s 400m in­di­vid­ual med­ley ti­tle at the World Aquat­ics Cham­pi­onships on Sun­day to com­plete the IM dou­ble on home soil in Bu­da­pest.

Hosszu clocked a new cham­pi­onship-record time of 4min, 29.33sec with Spain’s Mireia Bel­monte tak­ing sil­ver at 2.84sec back and Syd­ney Pick­rem of Canada earn­ing bronze at 3.55.

This is the third straight world cham­pi­onships where Hosszu has won both the 200m and 400m IM ti­tle and she is also the world-record holder in both events.

De­spite her nick­name, Hosszu looked ex­hausted when she touched the wall and com­posed her­self be­fore cel­e­brat­ing in front of the rau­cous home crowd Duna Arena.

She ad­mit­ted her pun­ish­ing sched­ule, rac­ing in the 200m and 400m IMs, 100m and 200M back­stroke, the 200m freestyle and 200m but­ter­fly, had taken its toll, but the home sup­port car­ried her.

“It’s been a hard week for me,” the 28-year-old ad­mit­ted af­ter her vic­tory.

“Of course, the Olympics sched­ule is dif­fer­ent — the 400 IM is on the first day there.

“I swam 4.26 in Rio and 4.29 here, I thought that I was in even bet­ter shape this year, but be­cause it was on the last day it was dif­fi­cult to swim a best time.

“In the last 100, I’ve def­i­nitely heard the crowd. They pulled me, I wasn’t just swim­ming for my­self I was

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at swim­ming for ev­ery­body here. I knew I would have a re­ally busy sched­ule and that on the last day, I would have this hard pro­gram.

“I was try­ing to re­cover be­tween races as much as I could. It was just amaz­ing for me to­day, I have to take a mo­ment to en­joy the whole ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Hosszu said the pres­sure of per­form­ing at home had been an is­sue — un­til she won her first gold in Mon­day’s 200m IM fi­nal.

“Hon­estly, com­ing into the world champs I tried to tell my­self I didn’t feel pres­sure and I’m just go­ing to give my best,” she said.

“But be­fore the 200IM fi­nal, yes, I did feel the pres­sure. Once I got the gold, though, I felt re­lief and could en­joy rac­ing here.”

Hosszu said she is look­ing for­ward to de­fend­ing her 200m and 400m IM Olympic ti­tles in 2020.

“Tokyo is in my mind, I’m very ex­cited about it,” she said.

“Now I feel free, I have all the ti­tles, I have all the records. I just en­joy swim­ming I re­ally love the sport.

“I do feel the mo­ti­va­tion in me to keep go­ing, I’d love to chal­lenge for Tokyo as well.”

Bel­monte, who fin­ished with three world medals, in­clud­ing gold in the 200m but­ter­fly, de­scribed Hosszu as “un­beat­able” at home.

“Katinka was very fast right from the start, no sur­prise that she was un­beat­able this time as well, since her per­for­mance was sta­ble through­out the en­tire tour­na­ment,” said the Spa­niard.

DAVID BALOGH / REUTERS

Katinka Hosszu of Hun­gary cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the women's 400m in­di­vid­ual med­ley on Sun­day.

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