Impressive Murphy comes of age


SWIMMING EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS:IRELAND’S GRÁINNE Murphy finished seventh in the final of the 400m individual medley at the European Championships in Budapest yesterday. It was an unexpected bonus for the eight-strong Ireland squad, as the 17-year-old Wexford girl figured amongst the European elite.

Murphy, a former double gold medallist at the junior Europeans in 2009, produced a superb swim in the morning heats, registering a time of four minutes 41.8 seconds, and was the fifth fastest qualifier in an event that produces a straight final.

In the decider, Murphy finished seventh behind British gold medallist Hanna Miley in a slower time than the heats of 4.43.45, tying up somewhat in the second half of the race, but nevertheless emerging pleased with her performance.

“It was great to race against the world and European champions. It’s a great experience to make the final,” said Murphy.

“Maybe I would have liked to have gone a little bit faster, but I can take a lot of positives out of that race and to do it without the old suit is another positive.”

The swimming world said farewell to the controversial polyurethane suit at the beginning of the year, after 43 world records were set at last year’s World Championships and Murphy is not lamenting its disappearance.

“I only wore the polyurethane suit once and that was at the World Championships in Rome last year and I changed back to the textile one in September 2009 as I knew that they were gone from January this year.

“I think I had a huge benefit from doing that and it’s really paying off.”

Up ahead of Murphy, Briton Hanna Miley produced a cracking freestyle leg to take gold, holding off the Hungarian world champion Katinka Hosszu and Zsuzsanna Jakabos, also of Hungary, who took bronze.

Melanie Nocher made the semi-finals of the women’s 200 backstroke, but finished 13th overall, half a second shy of making the final. The 22-year-old may have peaked too early for her favourite event having set a new Irish record two weeks ago, which would have been good enough to make today’s final, but she had to be content with a semi-final time of 2.13.32, which wasn’t good enough to make the top eight.

Earlier in the day, Ryan Harrison (400 freestyle) plus Andrew Bree and Barry Murphy (100 breaststroke) failed to emerge from their respective heats, but their favoured events are later in the week.

However, Bree did express some alarm after the race, saying he wasn’t entirely happy with his swim and that he will have to do a lot better if he is to emerge from the 200m breaststroke heats tomorrow.

Ireland have just three competitors in action today as Harrison competes in the men’s 200 freestyle, while Claire Dawson sees her first action of the week in the women’s 100m freestyle heats and Bree will be in action for the men.

In the other finals, on the opening night, world champion Paul Biderman of Germany, was surprisingly beaten in the men’s 400m final by Yannick Angel of France.

Germany won the women’s 4 x 100 metres freestyle relay, while Russia won the men’s event.