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The start of something extraordinary

Hawkes Bay Swimmer Powers Her Way Into Final

Fourteen year old Bobbi Gichard has swum into medal contention for tomorrow’s final on the opening night of competition at the Youth Olympic Games in China.

The Hawkes Bay teenager has finished third fastest in the semifinals of the 100m backstroke in Nanjing tonight.

Her teammate and New Zealand flagbearer Gabrielle Fa’amausili was 11th fastest and missed out on the A Final.

Gichard produced an excellent race in the faster second semifinal, going out strongly in 30.25 seconds and zooming home in 31.45s, the second fastest of all swimmers. She clocked 31.70s to be third in her semifinal won by Great Britain’s Jessica Fullalove in 1:01.35.

There is more in the tank for the diminutive swimmer from the Greendale club who has a personal best of 1:01.34 set at the national open championships.

Fa’amausili, the junior world champion over 50m backstroke, showed her noted speed to zip through the turn in 30.12s, to be second in her semifinal, but faded over the closing 50m to finish in 1:03.10. She was 0.8s off a place in tomorrow’s final.

“Bobbi really stepped it up tonight and improved on a couple of areas from this morning’s swim,” said coach Brigitte Mahon. “She really brought it home strongly. We are excited for tomorrow night.”

In the morning session Gichard was second in her heat and seventh fastest overall in 1:02.39 while Fa’amausili, from the Roskill club in Auckland, was fifth in her heat and eighth overall in 1:02.41.

In other swims North Shore’s Jacob Garrod was slightly outside his best clocking 1:05.30 in heats of the 100m breaststroke to miss out on the semifinals.

Fellow Auckland swimmer Michael Mincham, from the Waterhole club, was just one spot outside qualifying for the B Final in the 400m freestyle. Mincham clocked 3:57.33 to be 17th fastest overall, half a second outside his personal best.

Tomorrow’s heats will see Fa’amausili in the 100m freestyle, Mincham in the 200m frestyle and Garrod in the 200m individual medley.

Results, women’s 100m backstroke, semifinal 1: Natalia de Luccas (BRA) 1:02.06, 1; Ambra Esposito (ITA) 1:02.22, 2; Irina Prikhodko (RUS) 1:02.24, 3. Also: Gabrielle Fa’Amausili (NZL) 1:03.10, 5.

Semifinal 2: Jessica Fullalove (GBR) 1:01.35, 1; Clara Smiddy (USA) 1:01.38, 2; Bobbi Gichard (NZL) 1:01.70, 3.