Itâ€™s July 28, 2012. What turns out to be the night of the most scrutinized 100 meters of swimming at the London Olympics.
Chinaâ€™s Ye Shiwen, 16, covers the final two lengths of the eight-length 400m individual medley in 58.68 seconds, a time that didnâ€™t seem possible for a woman.
Ye destroyed those closing 100 meters of freestyle 2.9 seconds faster than the next swiftest finalist and .03 slower than menâ€™s 400m individual medley gold medalist Ryan Lochte. She shattered the womenâ€™s 400m IM world record by 1.03 seconds.
The last 100 meters were watched again and again, the eye-popping, dubious Ye flying past American Elizabeth Beisel for gold.
Hungaryâ€™s Katinka Hosszu says she remembers everything about that race. Ye was in lane five. Hosszu was in lane three.
â€œIn my mind,â€ said Hosszu, the 2009 World 400m IM champion, â€œI was going there for the gold.â€
Hosszu led Ye, Beisel and the field after 100 meters of butterfly and at the 200-meter mark, after the backstroke leg. But she fell behind Beisel and Ye on the breaststroke and trailed by 1.89 seconds going into those final 100 meters.
â€œA lot of people tell you before the race, stay positive, and you cannot think about what happens if you lose,â€ Hosszu said in a phone interview Tuesday. â€œI was so focused on winning. The last 100, Iâ€™m not winning anymore. I kind of gave up.â€
Hosszu turned at the 300-meter mark, looked ahead, breathed to her right and saw the feet of Beisel and Ye pulling away. The gold was gone. Battling for bronze didnâ€™t enter her mind.
â€œI kind of took a couple of easy strokes,â€ Hosszu said, â€œand I actually didnâ€™t even make it to the podium.â€
Hosszu trailed by 3.06 seconds after 350 meters, still clinging to third place, but was passed by Chinaâ€™s Li Xuanxu for bronze in the final stretch. She finished fourth, 5.06 seconds behind Ye and .58 of a second behind Li.
It was the first night of swimming at the London Games. Hosszu, then 23, had two more individual events left, plus a relay.
â€œMy Olympics was pretty much done,â€ she said. â€œI wanted to go home.â€
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