Hansen has entered the past two Olympic Games as a favorite in the 100 breast, but now, most have put him into an underdog role. His times this year have not indicated that he can make a run at gold, but he knows that after twice falling short, the 100 breast final could be his last shot at individual glory. Hansen remains a darkhorse, but a darkhorse with a real shot. Meanwhile, American record-holder Eric Shanteau joins Hansen in the 100 distance, but Shanteau will fight just to get into the final. Surprisingly, Shanteau did not qualify in the 200 breast, his better event, so he has only one shot at an Olympic final, something he fell two spots short of in the 200 breast in
Kitajima leads the World this year in the 200 breast as well, with a 2:08.00 from March, but Tateishi stands right behind at 2:08.17. Fast, but potentially not fast enough. Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta has won two straight World titles in the event, coming from behind on the last lap twice to overtake Shanteau in 2009 and Kitajima in 2011.
brings star power in Christian Vom Lehn and Marco Koch, while Britain’s
hopes lie with the likes of Andrew Willis and Michael Jamieson….
Wherever you look in the 200 breast, you find big names. Except, you might
notice, among the Americans.
In quite a twist of fate, Scott Weltz and Clark Burckle will represent the
in the 200 breast. Weltz, best known as the B-final winner at Winter Nationals –
in other words, hardly known – broke onto the scene with a 2:09.01 to win
Trials, and that time definitely puts him into the hunt to at least make the
final. If he keeps improving at the rate in which he dropped time at Trials,
the sky could be the limit for Weltz. Burckle, meanwhile, has shown some
consistency this year with a pair of sub-2:10 swims that, again, should put him
into final contention. Both will have to show me more, though, before I pick
them to medal.
|Kitajima was staking out his American competition in Omaha at U.S. Trials.|