Monday, 22 March 2010

Kukla's presence to add to excitement

Yolane Kukla's appearance on scene is already created ripples as she managed to slug it out with heavyweights and come on top not in one but two events. In the process, she booked her place for 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi.

Standing on the blocks awaiting the start of last night's 50m freestyle final, 14-year-old Yolane Kukla looked like she was representing Lilliput against a field of Gullivers.

On one side of the 165cm pocket-sized teenager was 185cm Marieke Guehrer; on the other was the similarly towering 181cm frame of Cate Campbell.

Asked if this week has been daunting, she replied "It is a little bit because they are quite tall. Especially Cate and Marieke because they are super-tall compared to me, but I think I've got used to it during the meet."

It may be daunting but it didn't show, as she swam 25.08 seconds to win the freestyle final, adding to the 50m butterfly title she won on Wednesday.

Australia's youngest swimming team member since Ian Thorpe in 1997 is starting to get a full book of swims for the Pan Pacs in August and Commonwealth Games in October.

"It feels really good. I never thought I'd even win a national title at my age; now I've got two. I keep on telling Mum every time I wake up in the morning I'm going [to Delhi].", Kukla said.

The key to her win was that start. She was clearly the first off the blocks and is showing no ill effects or tentativeness from false starting and being disqualified from the 100m freestyle final. "I lost quite a bit of confidence when I broke the other night but I practised my starts in warm-up this morning and I got my confidence back."

Second was Alice Mills in 25.13s with Campbell, the Olympic bronze medal winner from Beijing, third in 25.15s. Coincidentally, Kukla's time is identical to the time swum by Libby Lenton in 2003 when she won her first senior national title.

After a frustrating week, Andrew Lauterstein decided it was time to get angry last night, and the transition worked as he won the 100m butterfly final in a smart time of 51.79s. "I don't normally swim with emotion but tonight I tried it and it seemed to work," he said.

"It was a bit of a strange swim. I attacked it with a bit more aggression than normal and maybe I need that sort of mental approach for the rest of my swims. I just didn't want to leave anything behind. I got pretty angry, angry at nothing, just not swimming well at the start of the week and angry at wanting to swim well."

Leisel Jones won her 22nd national title last night when she made a clean sweep of the breaststroke events adding the 100m to the 50m and 200m she won earlier this week. Her time of 1min.05.79s is only 0.7s outside her Commonwealth record set four years ago.

Brenton Rickard will be looking to emulate Jones tonight in the 200m breaststroke, having won the 50m version [27.40s] last night to go with his 100m breaststroke title earlier this week, while backstroker Hayden Stoeckel achieved the treble with his victory last night in the 100m event in a time of 53.61s.

In other finals last night, Belinda Hocking won the 200m backstroke in 2min.07.89s, Bronte Barratt won the 400m freestyle in 4min.05.50s, Emily Seebohm won the 50m backstroke in 27.95s and Leith Brodie took out the 200m individual medley in 1min.59.60s.


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