Silver and fourth for courageous Aussies
1 August 2012
SWIMMING: Alicia Coutts has completed a full hand of Olympic medals - gold, silver and bronze - and probably deserves another one for sportsmanlike diplomacy.
The 24-year-old Queenslander was runner-up to controversial Chinese star Ye Shiwen in the 200m individual medley on day 4 at the Aquatic Centre, which follows her starring role in the 100m freestyle relay win and her bronze in the 100m butterfly.
She was delighted by her performance – her time of 2.08.15 was more than half a second outside the winner’s 2:07.57 but a huge personal best , and no-one was expected to beat Ye, who won the 400m IM on Saturday in world record time.
Coutts was invited to buy into suggestions that Ye’s performances are too good to be true, saying simply that she was an amazing swimmer.
“I know how much effort I have pout in and if that’s not good enough to win a gold medal then I have 100 per cent respect for whoever beats me. They have obviously worked very hard too.
“I’ve never been in that position but I’m sure it would be tough for any athlete to have people saying those things about you. It wouldn’t be a nice feeling. I believe you’re innocent until proven guilty. You can’t speculate about somebody if you don’t know.”
Coutts’ pleasure in the outcome was in stark contrast to team-mate Stephanie Rice, who finished fourth in the same race after also missing a medal in the 400m.
Rice, the triple golden girl from the Beijing Games, had to walk away from reporters in the mixed zone after she lost control of her emotions while talking about hard hard her preparation had been, mainly because of shoulder problems that prevented her training properly.
That made it a teary day – at the morning media conference, 100m backstroke silver medallist Emily Seebohn had also dissolved into tears because she had been through so much only to narrowly miss the ultimate reward.
“I’m very disappointed,” Rice said.
“But I’m very proud of the effort I put in. So many things went wrong but at the end of the day I did everything I could. If I had been able to do what I wanted to do, I would have been much better prepared. But the reality is that it didn’t pan out for me.”
It was when she was asked if she had a future in the sport that she had to compose herself.
“It’s a tough decision now to analyse what I want to do,” she said. “I love swimming, love competing and representing Australia, but if the preparations are going to be like the one I have just had there is no way in the world I could keep it up.
“It has been really tough. I don’t know if I could prepare again under the circumstances. If I am to continue in the sport I definitely need some sort of surgery, whether its a reco or a clean-out. It’s something I have to weigh up.
“I have to take a break and get my head in the right frame of mind. I can’t make a quick decision. I would hate to finish on on a disappointing note but I am proud of my career.”
Ron Reed in London