Olympic Swimming 2012: Top Gold Medal Contenders in Women's 200m Backstroke
Heat 5 of the women's 200-meter backstroke concluded Day 6 with American Missy Franklin posting the best time, entering the finals only behind teammate Elizabeth Beisel. While Franklin is a favorite to take home the gold, she's just one of a few names who could do so.
Here's a look at the shortlist of women who will likely bring the gold medal to their country in this event.
Missy Franklin, United States
Franklin is perhaps the top favorite to win the event considering her gold medal performance at the 2011 World Championships in the event and her early Olympic success so far. She's already taken gold for the U.S. in the 100-meter backstroke event in London, which should give the American great confidence heading into the 200-meter.
Franklin has been on fire in her sport as of late, earning the FINA Swimmer of the Year award last year to cap off a flat-out dominant 2011. Franklin may not have prior Olympics experience to draw and reflect on when preparing herself for this event finals. Then again, that hungry determination that comes from an Olympics debut may prove to be a more powerful confidence builder.
Kirsty Coventry, Zimbabwe
If you want previous Olympic experience, Coventry is the gal you're looking for. She not only took the gold medal in this event during the Beijing Games, she did so by setting the new world record time.
Coventry hasn't been in the limelight of the sport for a few years however, as she failed to qualify during the 2011 World Championships, where Franklin finished first. The last time the Zimbabwe representative won gold in the 200-meter backstroke on the world stage was 2009 when she won the world title.
That experience will come into play in the finals, and Coventry did finish second to Franklin in the second semifinal, so perhaps this is the event that brings her back to international relevance in the event.
Belinda Hocking, Australia
Hawking hasn't had as impressive a start to the Olympics as her American counterpart, finishing seventh in the 100-meter backstroke finals.
That finish can either motivate or hinder her going into the finals of the 200-meter, but considering she was able to take silver at the 2008 Games leaves room to believe she can make a run for gold in 2012.
She took home the silver again in this event during the 2011 World Championships and gold in the 2012 National Championships in her country. Coventry and Franklin should be the more favored competitors, but it wouldn't be wise to sleep on Hocking during this competition.
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