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Home / News / Second world gold for Wiffen, joy for relay teams

Second world gold for Wiffen, joy for relay teams

Daniel Wiffen secured a superb world title double by storming to gold in the 1500m freestyle final on the final day of the World Aquatics Championships in Doha.

On Thursday, the Armagh man made history by winning 800m freestyle gold, becoming the first Irish swimmer to claim a medal at a long-course World Championships.

Wiffen was only the sixth seed for Sunday’s final but said he had swum within himself in winning his Saturday heat in 14:54.29.

He confirmed that by setting the pace from the off and led Turkey’s Kuzey Tuncelli by four metres at the 500m mark.

That gap was almost six seconds by halfway, as the 22-year-old was on course for world-record pace.

At 1000m, Ukraine’s Mykahilo Romanchuk was closest, over eight seconds behind, and it was clearly Wiffen against the clock.

The Irish man’s pace eased a little in the closing third but he still cruised to the gold medal in a new Irish record time of 14:34.07.

Germany’s Florian Wellbrock finished second in 14:44.61 with Frenchman David Aubry third in 14:44.85.

Daniel Wiffen celebrates after his dominant victory

“That race was definitely better for me,” Wiffen said afterwards. “Coming here, the progression from the 400 to the 800 to the 1500, I’m so happy to come away with a PB and two world titles.

“I’m so happy because after hitting that time in April, it could have been a fluke. I went 14:35 in the U23s, in my back garden really, in Dublin.

“I was talking about it with my coach Andi [Manley] – and we had a little bet as to whether I was going to PB or not – but [the plan was] 100% to go out a bit faster than everybody else and just be in my own lane, get out ahead and really focus on what I was going to do.”

Wiffen was two and a half seconds outside the championship record and six off the world-record mark set by Sun Yang at the 2012 Olympics, which he has firmly in his sights.

“It’s definitely one of my goals to try and beat that at some point,” he said.

“I’m only 22, I’ve got at least another eight years, another couple of Olympics in me. I’m sure it’ll go at some stage and I hope to be the person to do it.”

Mona McSharry reached three breaststroke finals this week

Mona McSharry finished eighth in the 50m breaststroke final, her third of the championships.

The Sligo woman had come into the race with the joint sixth-fastest qualifying time but a long week seemed to show as she tired in the closing metres to finish in a time of 30.96 seconds, 0.33 slower than her semi-final performance yesterday.

World record holder Lithuanian Ruta Meilutyte won in 29.40, just 0.11 of a second ahead of China’s Tang Qianting. Benedetta Pilato of Italy was third in 30.01.

The 23-year-old finished fifth in both the 100m and 200m breaststroke finals earlier in the week.

“I expected a little bit more coming into this but three finals is definitely progress,” she said.

“Being able to move through a long meet, perform well and move through the rounds is definitely something positive.”

Shane Ryan helped Ireland make the medley relay final at the World Aquatics Championships

Earlier on Sunday, Ireland’s 4x100m men’s medley relay team made a piece of swimming history as they reached the final while the women’s relay team’s place at the 2024 Olympic Games was confirmed.

Conor Ferguson [backstroke], Darragh Green [breaststroke], Max McCusker [butterfly] and Shane Ryan [freestyle] confirmed their spot in the final after an outstanding swim of 3:34.94 to place fourth in their heat and eighth overall.

They finished seventh in the final, after Poland were disqualified, in a slightly slower 3:35.28. The USA took gold in 3:29.80, with Netherlands (3:31.23) pipping Italy (3:31.59) to silver.

It was the first time an Ireland men’s team had made a relay final in a world long course championships.

Sunday morning’s medley relay heats also offered an opportunity for countries to secure places at the Paris Games, with the combined top 16 times from Doha and the 2023 World Championships in Japan considered for invitations.

The men’s team are 15th but still have some work to do, with two individual Olympic Qualification Times (OQT) required from the team at May’s Irish National Trials in order to confirm an Olympic place.

Ireland have only had one previous male relay team at an Olympic Games, which came when the 4x200m freestyle competed in Tokyo in 2021.

While they did not compete in Doha, Ireland’s Women’s 4x100m medley relay time of 4:01.25 from the 2023 World Championships remained 13th and is good enough for a quota spot for Paris.

Ireland already have two swimmers with Olympic Qualification Times from within that relay: Mona McSharry and Ellen Walshe. It will be Ireland’s first female relay at a Games since 1972.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun to be able to compete with the girls,” said McSharry.

“I think it’s the last event in Paris so it will be nice for all of us to finish together with a relay.

“It kind of shows where women’s swimming is going in Ireland.”

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