IN THE end it was Fran Halsall who rode to Great Britain’s rescue in Barcelona but after missing out on her own World Championship medal, Hannah Miley vowed to carry on in her pursuit of excellence.
Not since 1994 had the British team left a worlds empty-handed from the pool and Halsall ensured it would remain that way by claiming 50m freestyle bronze on the final night of action at Palau Sant Jordi
Had Halsall failed – and she only held on to third by 0.15 seconds to match GBs haul from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics – the pressure to deliver would have fallen on Miley’s shoulders in the last individual event of the week in the Catalan capital, the 400m medley.
Liverpool’s Halsall admitted afterwards she hoped her medal would ease that pressure but it was not the mental side that Miley struggled to handle. Rather she was pushed out of the medals by the stunning improvements made by Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu and Spain’s Mireia Belmonte.
Miley, 23, beat both swimmers on the way to winning world silver two years ago in Shanghai, with Belmonte fourth and Hosszu exiting in the heats.
But in Barcelona last night Hosszu ruled supreme, swimming under the world record for much of the race before touching home in 4.30.41minutes with Belmonte second in 4.31.21mins and defending champion Elizabeth Beisel third in 4.31.69mins.
As in London last year Miley finished in fifth, this time clocking 4.34.16mins, but the Garioch swimmer, who is famed for her unusual training techniques under father Patrick, hopes to close the gap on the road to Rio 2016.
“I’m fifth again but it is faster than what I did at the Olympic Games so I can’t really complain,” she said.
“It is not really the result that everyone wanted and I hate disappointing people because it is a massive disappointment for myself to come away without a medal considering what I did in Shanghai.
“It is something to think about because the time I did in Shanghai would not have actually got me in the top three this time round.
“I need to try and do something to make that improvement again. I will sit and analyse it with my dad as ever and Belmonte and Hosszu have really made the massive leaps and bounds and I need to look and see what their gains were and hopefully try and better that.
“The target is obviously the end of the three years which is Rio and this is a stepping stone and the kick up the backside that will hopefully keep me motivated and get me back in the water and train even harder.”
Before Miley took to the water Dan Wallace gave a glimpse of the future when he lowered his lifetime best for the second time in one day to finish seventh in his 400m medley final.
Wallace, the Warrender swimmer who is in his second year training with Florida Gators, the same club as Ryan Lochte, in the USA, carved almost a second off his lifetime best in qualifying sixth for the final in 4.14.15mins.
The 20-year-old then rose to the occasion in the medal showdown to clock 4.13.72mins and admitted he was just looking to make his parents proud. “It was another PB which is great and I knew I could go slightly faster than the morning so I was happy I was able to do that,” said Wallace, whose parents were watching on in the crowd.
“I’ve been swimming really well this year and each PB gives me more confidence for Glasgow next year.
“My parents have sacrificed a lot. They work really hard to keep me in Florida and I work really hard to make them proud so it works out well.”
Meanwhile, Ross Murdoch believes his Barcelona adventure has been a real eye-opener ahead of next year’s Commonwealth Games after concluding his races with the 4x100m medley relay.
Murdoch swam breaststroke as he Chris Walker-Hebborn, Michael Rock and Adam Brown finished ninth to narrowly miss out on a place in the final.
“I’ve enjoyed my week a lot and I was really looking forward to the relay,” he said.
“I missed out on my chance to be part of the medley at the junior events last year so I was really part of the team.
“It is a different animal competing at the senior level. I didn’t realise how big the jump was going to be but it just lets me know exactly what I’ve let myself in for and I’m excited for the future.”
• 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