Henshaw and Johnson set for head-to-head
5th September 2012
Charlotte Henshaw and Liz Johnson broke the Paralympic record in consecutive heats to qualify first and second for the SB6 100m Breaststroke final on day seven of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
Defending Paralympic champion Johnson was in the opening heat, setting a season’s best 1:41.09 to narrowly hold off Ukraine’s Viktoriia Savtsova (1:41.22).
I don’t know if people could tell from my face after that but I’m really surprised.
World silver medallist and European record holder Henshaw followed in style, dominating her heat to win in 1:39.64 – the third fastest time of her career and the quickest she has been since 2010.
“I don’t know if people could tell from my face after that but I’m really surprised,” said Henshaw.
“I just wanted to come in and do a solid heat and I think a lot of the nerves pushed me forwards because I really wanted to post a good time.
“I had a dip at the beginning of the year so that shows I’ve still got the form there – I’m so, so pleased.”
Hannah Russell will swim in lane four in a final for the third time on her Paralympic debut after leading qualifiers from the S12 100m Backstroke heats.
I know all my class can really step up their game for the final and I'm going to have to do the same.
The 16-year old set a European record on her first visit to London Aquatics Centre to qualify for her debut Games at the British Championships.
And while she didn’t beat her PB in the heat in London, she held more than 1.5 seconds over the field to touch in 1:11.18 with Azerbaijan’s Natali Pronina (1:12.79) second fastest.
"I've come and tried to do my absolute best in all my races," said Russell. "And it's nice to be seeded first from the heats but it doesn't mean too much.
"I know all my class can really step up their game for the final and I'm going to have to do the same.
"There could be a chance of a medal I suppose but I'll stick to what I have been doing which is trying to swim a PB and take anything else as a bonus."
Louise Watkin became the third Brit to qualify fastest from her heats as she impressed in her favourite S9 50m Freestyle event.
That's definitely what I was looking to do in the heats - go out there and see what I could do.
Having already won a bronze with the 34pt 4x100m Freestyle Relay quartet, Watkin was competing in her first individual race of the Games and stormed home to take the touch in 29.35.
And the world champion was adamant she wanted to improve on her time for the final where she will chase her first Paralympic title.
"That's definitely what I was looking to do in the heats - go out there and see what I could do," said Watkin, who won a silver and four bronzes on her Paralympic debut in 2008.
"This is my first individual race here and there are a lot of things I got wrong in that race which I'll be looking to improve on tonight.
"In the 50m there are so many people on similar times so it just comes down to who can hit that wall first."
Also competing in the S9 50m Freestyle heats, 14-year old Amy Marren set a personal best 31.02 to finish 10th overall while Lauren Steadman clocked a season's best 31.04 to place 11th.
Oliver and Sam Hynd made smooth progress into the SM8 200m Individual Medley final.
We have seen from this competition that even if you qualify in first, you can come out last.
The brothers are both European gold medallist in this event – Sam from 2009, Oliver from 2011 – and both set season’s bests to qualify in second and third for the final.
European record holder Oliver ultimately touched in 2:27.95 while defending bronze medallist Sam came home in 2:28.88.
And while the two brothers shared the podium with silver (Oliver) and bronze (Sam) in the S8 400m Freestyle, Sam insisted neither would be taking a similar result for granted.
“I certainly hope we’ve both got a chance of making the podium again,” said Sam.
“But we have seen from this competition that even if you qualify in first, you can come out last and if you go in last, you can come out first.”
British teammate Thomas Young missed out on the final by just 0.65 seconds after finishing 11th overall in 2:35.98.
Competing at his sixth Paralympic Games, James Anderson qualified for his second final of London 2012 in the S2 50m Backstroke.
The 49-year old won his heat in a season’s best 1:07.17 and will look to win his sixth consecutive Paralympic medal in the event after progressing third fastest.
Rob Welbourn qualified fifth fastest for the S10 400m Freestyle final at his third Paralympic Games.
I tend to get stronger as a race goes on but I didn’t step up a gear this morning to conserve as much energy as I could for tonight.
The 25-year old has won silver in this event at each of the last two Paralympics but after progressing in 4:17.13, he admitted the medals could come from any lane in tonight’s final.
“I think the world has really stepped up in this event,” said Welbourn. “There are some new faces and the old ones have really improved as well so it will be close and the medals could go anywhere tonight.
“For me that was pretty comfortable this morning. I tend to get stronger as a race goes on but I didn’t step up a gear this morning to conserve as much energy as I could for tonight.”
James O’Shea reached the SB5 100m Breaststroke final in the first and only event on his Paralympic debut.
The 34-year old only competed in his first event as an ASA-registered swimmer in November 2010 but looked at home on the Paralympic stage as he clocked 1:39.88 to touch second in his heat and qualify fifth fastest.
Paralympic newcomers Gemma Almond and Emma Hollis missed out on the finals in the S10 400m Freestyle and SM8 200m Individual Medleys respectively.
Almond finished 11th in the 400m Free, clocking 5:07.43 in her third event of the Games while Hollis – who suffered a fractured ankle five days ago – was 13th in her 200m IM in 3:28.90.
Finally, Matt Whorwood set a season’s best 1:36.09 as he finished 10th overall in the SB6 100m Breaststroke heats.