Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia wins 1,500 freestyle gold at World Aquatics Championships

Hafnaoui, the Olympic 400m freestyle champion, won his second gold at the world championships

By Reuters

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Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui celebrates his victory in the final of the men's 1500m freestyle. — AFP
Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui celebrates his victory in the final of the men's 1500m freestyle. — AFP

Published: Sun 30 Jul 2023, 8:44 PM

Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui won the men's 1,500m freestyle title at swimming's world championships on Sunday.

Hafnaoui came home in 14min, 31.54sec to finish ahead of American Bobby Finke on 14:31.59 and Australia's Sam Short on 14:37.28.

Hafnaoui's time was less than a second off the world record of 14:31.02 set by China's Sun Yang in 2012.

"Bobby is so fast in the end of the race, he just pushed us," said Hafnaoui.

"It was so close to the world record. I enjoyed the race and thanks Bobby for pushing me."

Short led for most of the race but faded towards the end to leave Hafnaoui and Finke going head-to-head.

"I think I deserve it," said Hafnaoui.

Short won the 400m freestyle title earlier in the week, pipping Hafnaoui to the line.

Hafnaoui, the Olympic 400m freestyle champion, got his revenge in the 800m freestyle final, edging Short after an epic battle.

Finke is the reigning Olympic 1,500m champion.

Italian Gregorio Paltrinieri, who won the race at last year's world championships in Budapest, chose not to defend his title.

Meanwhile, Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania set her second world record in as many days in the women's 50 metres breaststroke, powering to the gold medal in a superb time of 29.16 seconds on the final day of swimming action at the World Aquatics Championships.

Meilutyte obliterated the record of 29.30 seconds that she had jointly held with Benedetta Pilato of Italy, after setting that mark in the semifinals on Saturday and she sent out a warning to her rivals ahead of next year's Paris Olympics.

"I'm happy," Meilutyte said. "I definitely felt it was possible. I'm enjoying the process along the way."

She was 0.78 seconds ahead of silver medallist Lilly King of the United States. Pilato took bronze in 30.04 seconds.

Sweden's Sarah Sjoestroem had broken her own world record in the women's 50m freestyle semifinals in a time of 23.61 seconds a day earlier and the 29-year-old was almost as quick in the final to claim gold in style.

Sjoestroem finished only one hundredth of a second away from her blistering effort for the record to beat Australia's Shayna Jack, who clocked 24.10.

"I'm super happy with that. It was very busy yesterday, with the world record and the gold medal," said Sjoestroem, who won a fifth straight world title in the 50m butterfly on Saturday.

Sjoestroem's freestyle victory meant the evergreen swimmer went past American great Michael Phelps with her 21st individual medal at the worlds.

Zhang Yufei took bronze in 24.15 to further swell China's medal tally.

Hunter Armstrong had got the U.S. off to a golden start on the final day of swimming at the Marine Messe Fukuoka Hall as he wrapped up the men's 50m backstroke title to secure his first individual crown.

The 22-year-old touched the wall in 24.05 seconds, 0.19 seconds ahead of compatriot Justin Ress with China's Xu Jiayu taking bronze after finishing 0.45 seconds behind the winner.

Canada's world record-holder Summer McIntosh proved too good for the field in the women's 400m individual medley, roaring to gold in a championship record time of 4:27.11 for her second victory at the meeting and fourth world title overall.

American Katie Grimes took silver after finishing more than four seconds away, while Australia's Jenna Forrester had to be content with bronze.

The U.S. men's and women's teams powered to victory in the 4x100m medley relays as the swimming heavyweights ensured a strong finish to the championships after disappointing displays by some of their compatriots earlier in the week.

The men's quartet of Ryan Murphy, Nic Fink, Dare Rose and Jack Alexy clocked 3:27.20 to edge China and Australia into second and third place.

The American women then rode on strong performances by Regan Smith, King, Gretchen Walsh and Kate Douglass to cruise home in 3:52.08 ahead of Australia and Canada.

Australia finished the meeting with 13 golds to top the table, ahead of the United States who had seven while China were third with five.

The next edition of the worlds will be hosted by Doha in February 2024.


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