ROBBIE Renwick underlined his status as one of the finest 200m freestyle swimmers on the planet at the World Championships last night but was still left with a nagging sense of deja vu after missing out on a medal.
Exactly a year to the day since he clocked 1.46.53minutes to finish sixth in the Olympic 200m freestyle final, Renwick was forced to settle for the same spot in Barcelona after shaving one hundredth of a second off that mark.
The Scot was not the only one to suffer, with America’s 11-time Olympic medallist Ryan Lochte again seeing France’s Yannick Agnel steal the gold that seemed destined to be his – finishing fourth once more.
Agnel’s time of 1.44.20 was too hot for the rest of the field and he streaked home over a second clear of Lochte’s teammate Conor Dwyer, with Russian Danila Izotov third in 1.45.59.
Renwick actually qualified fastest through the heats and was fourth-quickest in the semi-finals on Monday but was always preaching caution, believing he would have to break his own national record of 1.45.99 to medal. As it was, that time would only have been good enough for sixth anyway, with Japan’s Kosuke Hagino touching home in 1.45.94 to finish one place ahead.
Still only 25, Renwick has plenty of miles left on the clock as he contemplates his plan of attack between now and Rio, with the added motivation of a home Commonwealth Games along the way.
“I really went in there just focusing on my own race plan and there were swimmers shooting off left, right and centre, so it was really difficult not to panic,” he said.
“I knew I had to really work that second 100m and that is the fastest swim I have done this season. It is good apart from coming sixth. I was sixth at the Olympics and I would have loved to have stepped it up again because sport is about trying to win medals at the top and I came up a little bit short.
“There are some aspects that I can look at and look at where I can get faster for next year.”
Renwick’s sixth spot means the British team still await their first medal in Barcelona, with many expecting it to have come in the women’s 1500m freestyle.
As it was, British hope Jazz Carlin exited in Monday’s heats and even, if she had progressed, she would have done well to have muscled onto the podium in a race that witnessed records liberally lowered.
Katie Ledecky, only 16 and still at school, took gold in a world record 15.36.53, while defending champion Lotte Friis also touched home well inside the old mark of 15.42.54, her 15.38.88m good enough only for silver and the consolation of a European record. The bronze medallist, Lauren Boyle, of New Zealand, also made history with a new Oceanic record of 15.44.71, while the USA dominated the men’s and women’s 100m backstroke with Matt Grevers and Missy Franklin taking gold.
British cheer again came in the form of Plymouth-based Lithuanian sensation Ruta Meilutyte, the 16-year-old returning to the pool 24 hours after breaking the 100m breaststroke world record in the semi-finals to claim gold in 1.04.42, 0.07 outside her best.
She said: “It is something I have always wanted to do and to represent my county so I am very happy to win.
“The attention and the recognition for swimming has grown in Lithuania after the Olympics but it can still be better.”
Meanwhile, Ross Murdoch promised to return to the international stage stronger and wiser next summer after exiting in the heats of the 50m breaststroke. Murdoch touched home in 28 seconds dead in his final event to rank 30th out of the 83 swimmers competing for one of the 16 semi-final spots.
“It has been a really good experience and I definitely believe next time around I’m going to be ready,” he said.
l Britain’s athletes are funded by UK Sport as the nation’s high performance sports agency responsible for the strategic investment of £355million of National Lottery and Exchequer funding in Olympic and Paralympic sports preparing for Rio 2016. The ambition is to win more medals than in London 2012 while building a stronger more sustainable high performance system. www.uksport.gov.uk.