Seebohm falls short in 100m backstroke
GALLANT frontrunner Emily Seebohm came up a fingernail short of slaying a Canadian world record-holder last night when the biggest giant-killing act in the Commonwealth Games pool seemed scripted.
The Queenslander and world champion Kylie Masse hit the wall on the same stroke and in the splash of whirling arms no one in the roaring crowd could split them for the 100m backstroke gold.
When they both spun around to peer at the scoreboard above the Gold Coast pool the result was with Masse (58.63 sec) who pipped Seebohm by a mere .03 sec.
Seebohm had led by that exact margin at the 50m mark to throw down the gauntlet to the world champion and led even into that last fateful stroke.
Her pool party was gatecrashed because it denied her the rare feat of winning the same event at three successive Commonwealth Games.
The smooth-stroking Masse had broken the Games record in the heats and semi-finals on Friday and did it again last night to show the quality of her swimming.
A balmy outdoor pool sprint on the Gold Coast was a world away from Masse's home base in Toronto where temperatures yesterday of minus four degrees suggested anyone swimming outdoors would be mad or frozen.
Seebohm's experience as a racer dealt with any concerns that the clear night sky, offering no markings like an indoor roof, would make it tougher to keep her bearings in her lane.
Unfortunately, team rookie Kaylee McKeown did fall foul of the tricky scenario and caught a lane rope with a stroke down the first lap.
It put a hitch in her rhythm and may have cost her a bronze medal because she finished fourth.
Seebohm, 25, still feels on an upswing after surgery last year to deal with endometriosis gave her back her old energy levels without cramps and back pains.
She flashed a smile post-race knowing that she had pushed a world champion to the limit.
"I swam so much faster than trials a month ago and if not for the crowd I wouldn't have swum so fast," Seebohm said.
Boyfriend Mitch Larkin will enter Sunday night's final of the 50m backstroke as a gold medal chance after winning his semi-final on Saturday night go through as fastest qualifier.