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Tancock and Miley end Worlds on a high

31 July 2011

Liam Tancock defended his 50m Backstroke title to collect a third gold for the British Gas GBR Swimming Team on the final day of the 2011 World Championships in Shanghai.

Having qualified fastest for the final, the world record holder dominated from the gun before touching in 24.50 – the fourth fastest time of his career and his quickest for two years.

France’s 100m Backstroke champion Camille Lacourt (24.57) and South Africa’s 2007 champion Gerhard Zandberg (24.66) won silver and bronze respectively but neither looked like catching the Brit after the half-way point.

Tancock’s victory was his fifth medal in his fourth World Championships, having won bronze for the 50m Backstroke in 2005 and 2007, 100m Backstroke bronze in 2007 as well as his first 50m Backstroke title in Rome two years ago.

I’m on top of the world

“It was amazing out there,” said Tancock. “These World Championships have been fantastic.

“I was World Champion in 2009 so I was defending that title tonight.

“When I made it to the final I thought there’s eight of us, anyone could win from any lane but I thought if they want to beat me they’ve got to come and get me.

“I did everything needed to do, get in there, do a good start and take the race to them. I did and it was gold and a World Championship medal again.

“I’m on top of the world.”

Hannah Miley clinched the first World Championship medal of her career, winning silver in the 400m Individual Medley.

The 21-year old is European and Commonwealth champion in the event and dug deep to overhaul Australia’s Olympic champion Stephanie Rice in the last five metres and touch in 4:34.22.

USA’s Elizabeth Beisel took gold in 4:31.78 while Rice was just 0.01 behind Miley, touching in 4:34.23 for bronze.

Miley had it all to do after turning sixth at the half way point but powered into third after her strong breaststroke leg and reeled in Rice in the final 100m freestyle.

And the British record holder admitted she had to push through the pain barrier to see the race home.

“As soon as I turned, I didn’t see Stephanie but I thought I’ve got to get a medal, even if it’s bronze,” said Miley, who became Great Britain's first female World Championship individual medley medallist.

“I knew the girl from China would come back hard in the free so I was kicking my little legs for dear life at the end.

“It’s an amazing feeling. The Europeans were awesome and at the Commonwealths I was really glad to get a medal but this is the next closest to the Olympics.

“It’s great I can get these performances. It just shows the hard work we’ve been putting in. We do put the hours in. There’s no easy way around it but this is what we get.”

British Gas ITC Loughborough swimmer Fran Halsall also impressed on the final day in China as she continued her comeback from ankle surgery in November.

The 20-year old equalled her result from the 100m Freestyle earlier in the week, touching in fourth in the 50m Free.

Sweden’s Therese Alshammar won gold in 24.14 ahead of the Dutch duo of Ranomi Kromowidjojo (24.27) and Marleen Veldhuis (24.49).

But after clocking her fastest time for two years of 24.60, Halsall insisted she had been pleased with her progress in Shanghai.

“I’m really pleased with that because it’s a textile best time for me,” said Halsall.

“I didn’t expect a medal at all coming into the meet so fourth in the 50m is a big surprise and a step up because I was ranked ninth coming in.

“I’ve put my name in the hat for both 50 and 100 free so I can just go back and get some good training in over the winter now.

“My British record is still there in the 100m Butterfly – no British person has ever gone faster than me in that event so hopefully I can come back in that for next year as well.”

The Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay quartet of Tancock, Michael Jamieson, Antony James and Adam Brown finished sixth overall in 3:36.58.

The British team sealed a place at the London 2012 Olympic Games by qualifying for the final and Tancock admits that was their overall target for the meet.

"Our main goal was to qualify for the Olympics which we did," said Tancock.

"A lot of people didn't expect us to reach the final which we did so we're pleased with how things have gone."

Roberto Pavoni was the only other Brit in action on Day Eight, competing in the 400m Individual Medley final in his debut World Championships.

The 20-year old touched in eighth in the final, falling short of his qualification time from the morning heats to touch in 4:19.85.

And Pavoni - who won European Junior Championship gold in 2008 and 2009 - admitted he had felt the effects of a tiring swim to reach the final in the morning session.

"I was quite a lot slower than this morning and hoping for a lot better to be honest," said Pavoni.

"Having said that, I just swam in my first final at my first World Championship so I can’t be too disappointed.

"I’ve got to get in training hard and learn how to swim fast in the heats and fast again in the finals.

"I’ve had a few years of being able to swim easy in the heats then bring my best to the final but you’re not able to do that at this level so that’s what I’ve got work on."

The British Gas GBR Swimming Team ended the 2011 World Championships with six medals - golds for Keri-anne Payne (10km Open Water), Rebecca Adlington (800m Freestyle) and Liam Tancock (50m Backstroke), and silvers for Adlington (400m Freestyle), Ellen Gandy (200m Butterfly) and Hannah Miley (400m Individual Medley).

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