Australia's Emily Seebohm celebrates after winning gold in the women's 200m backstroke final at the Swimming World Championships in Budapest.
Australia's Emily Seebohm celebrates after winning gold in the women's 200m backstroke final at the Swimming World Championships in Budapest. Petr David Josek

Aussie swimmer strikes gold at World Championships

SWIMMING: Emily Seebohm has fought her way back from the brink to win Australia's first gold medal at the world swimming championships in Budapest.

Seebohm, 25, was in fourth place when she made the last turn in the 200m backstroke but turned in a barnstorming last lap to snatch the gold medal from Hungarian favourite Katinka Hosszu.

One year after her Rio Olympic campaign was ruined by a battle with endometriosis, Seebohm charged back to the top of the world, setting a personal best time and national record of 2:05:68 to win her second consecutive world title in the event.

Emily Seebohm shows off her medal after winning gold in the women's 200m backstroke final at the World Championships.
Emily Seebohm shows off her medal after winning gold in the women's 200m backstroke final at the World Championships. Petr David Josek

Hosszu finished a close second in 2:05.85 with American Kathleen Baker third (2:06.48).

Australia nearly had a second medal in the event as 16-year-old Kaylee McKeown set a world junior record of 2:06.76 to finish fourth on her debut at this level.

Australia's Emily Seebohm is congratulated by her teammate Kaylee Rochelle McKeown, left, after winning the gold medal in the women's 200m backstroke at the World Championships.
Australia's Emily Seebohm is congratulated by her teammate Kaylee Rochelle McKeown, left, after winning the gold medal in the women's 200m backstroke at the World Championships. Michael Sohn

When Seebohm touched the wall and realised she had won, she put her hand to her face and cried. When she pulled herself out of the water she lay flat on her back next to her block with relief coursing through her.

"I was pretty relieved and then I was just really honoured and proud,” she said.

"It was such a fast field tonight and I was going to be proud of myself whether I won or came last because getting back into the pool after Rio was really hard.

"With everything that I've gone through it just proves to myself that it wasn't me, that Rio was just one of those things that happen in life. Sometimes you have to go down to go back up.”

Australia's Emily Seebohm breaks down after her gold-medal swim in the 200m backstroke.
Australia's Emily Seebohm breaks down after her gold-medal swim in the 200m backstroke. Petr David Josek

Seebohm missed the final in the 200m at the Rio Olympics and had surgery for endometriosis in December. Since then she has been able to resume full training and has steadily returned to the top rank.

She also won the bronze medal in the 100m backstroke earlier this week.

Earlier, another reigning world champion Bronte Campbell defied her ongoing shoulder injury to reach the final of the 50m freestyle as the Swedish sensation Sarah Sjostrom took down the world record in the same race.

Sjostrom, who had already demolished the 100m freestyle world record on the opening night of the championships, completed the double by claiming the supersuit world record of German Britta Steffen in 23.67sec. Steffen set the previous mark of 23.73sec in 2009, before the performance-enhancing bodysuits were banned.

Campbell was the fifth fastest qualifier in 24.43sec.

Australia's Bronte Campbell prepares for a women's 50m freestyle heat in Budapest.
Australia's Bronte Campbell prepares for a women's 50m freestyle heat in Budapest. Michael Sohn

"She's on fire at the moment so I'm just glad I'm in the final,” Campbell said.

"If you look at the times there's a bunch of us all grouped together and if you are in the final you've got a shot, so tomorrow will be my shot.

"I'm sure I don't have a lot of off-the-gun speed but hopefully I've been doing this long enough to know how to hold my length and rate in the last 10 metres and I'm just going to keep on trying to do that.

"Sarah's been the one to beat all meet, she's having an amazing year and sometimes that happens. I had an amazing year in 2015 and she's having an amazing year this year and you sit back and watch them and enjoy the ride and then go home and work out how to beat them.”

Sjostrom had warmed up by winning the 50m butterfly world title in 24.60sec

The man of the moment was new American sprint star Caeleb Dressel who became the first swimmer to win three gold medals in a single night at the world titles.

Dressel, 20, already had three gold medals before after winning the 100m freestyle and two relays with the US team, but doubled his tally with victories in the 50m freestyle, 100m butterfly and mixed medley relay.

Dressel's winning times in the freestyle (21.15sec) and butterfly (49.86sec) are the fastest swum in a textile suit, and he was part of the world record-setting mixed relay (3:19.60).

Veteran Australian butterflyer Grant Irvine, racing in his first global final, set a personal best of 51.00sec to finish seventh in the 100m butterfly.

This event is developing so rapidly that his time would have won the silver medal at the Rio Olympics last year.



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