Swimmer Lacuna bombs out in men’s 200 freestyle
LONDON—Jessie Khing Lacuna got a nasty taste of world-caliber competition on Sunday and bombed out as expected at the first hurdle.
The 18-year-old Lacuna finished second to last in his heat’s squad of six with a time of 1 minute 52.91 seconds and bowed out of the 200-meter freestyle competition—his only event at the London Olympics here—as 36th in a field of 40.
The winner of the second of six heats, Matias Koski of Finland, exploded from the blocks and held on to post a time of 1:49.84 that was still not enough to put him in the semifinals where China’s Sun Yang headed the 16 qualifers with a 1:46.24 clocking.
Koski’s furious first 100 meters created too much of an urgency for Lacuna to match, leaving the Filipino’s hopes of rewriting his own national record of 1:50.90 in shreds.
Lacuna, the country’s newest poster boy of swimming from Pulilan, Bulacan, had little gas left when he turned for home.
Radovan Siljevski of Serbia and Mario Montoya of Costa Rica followed Koski home in 1:51.40 and 1:51.66.
“He was in good condition but the adrenaline and the excitement pushed him too fast in the first half,” said Pinky Brosas, Lacuna’s coach. “He was too excited to compete.”
Sun was faster than 400m individual medley gold medalist Ryan Lochte of the United States in ruling the fifth heat. Lochte eased up a bit in the final 50 meters and turned in the second best qualifying time of 1:46.45.
Lacuna, who took over from Miguel Molina as the country’s strongest swimmer by besting two of the latter’s two national records last year, became the country’s first casualty in these Olympics.
The Siberia of a placement for a lesser light—Lacuna was in lane 6—and Koski’s incredibly fast takeoff left the Filipino gasping after the first half of his swim.
“He clocked a lot faster in the first 100, and he did not have enough coming home,” Brosas said of Lacuna, who admittedly misjudged the ferocity of Koski’s pace and probably did not have enough left in his legs in the final 50m.
Watching Lacuna, Philippine Olympic Committee chair Monico Puentevella could only shake his head.
“This is a different level of competition,” he said.
”Can you imagine? Not even Michael Phelps can win a medal here anymore,” he said, referring to Phelps’ fourth place finsh in the final of the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Saturday.
The Filipinos are coming off their worst Olympic showing ever in the Games—they failed to win a single match or advance to the next round in Beijing four years ago. There’s nowhere to go but up and a single win or advancement into the second round is already an improvement for them.
Still, Puentevella continued to be as gloomy as the London weather about the Philippines’ prospects. With reports from Artemio T. Engracia Jr.
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