Iranian swimmer Mohammed Alirezaei failed to come up with an original
explanation when asked why he withdrew from a heat featuring Israel’s Gal Nevo
in the World Championships in Shanghai, saying on Tuesday that he couldn’t
compete in the 100-meters breastroke because he was tired and
Alirezaei also refused to race alongside Israeli swimmer Tom
Be’eri in the 100m breaststroke heats at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but he
maintained on Tuesday that his move wasn’t political.
Alirezaei said that
his flight had only landed the day before the race after completing his 50m
breaststroke heat on Tuesday, adding that he did not have a problem competing
He claimed that the fact that both withdrawals came
against Israelis was merely a coincidence, but Nevo wants swimming’s world
governing body FINA to finally take a stand against such incidents.
Iranian swimmer consistently disgraces the World Championships and it is about
time that FINA takes care of this issue,” Nevo said.
Nevo was the only
Israeli to compete in the championships on Tuesday, finishing the 200m butterfly
heats in 27th position in a season-best time of 1:59.68 minutes.
24-year-old will race the first of his two main events on Wednesday, swimming
the 200m individual medley.
Meanwhile in Shanghai, Ryan Lochte’s victory
in the men’s 200- meter freestyle on Tuesday not only allowed him to emerge from
compatriot Michael Phelps’s shadow, but could set up a mouthwatering ”Race of
the Century – Part Two” at next year’s London Olympics.
impressive turn at the 100 mark, when he exploded off the wall to catch, then
overtake, Olympic champion Phelps, propelled him to the victory over a
high-class field that included world record holder Paul Biedermann of Germany
and South Korea’s 400 meters freestyle champion Park Tae-hwan.
Lochte’s victory was impressive enough, it is the likely return of Australian
Ian Thorpe to competition that could set up a repeat of the race that captivated
the Athens Olympics.
Thorpe prevailed over Pieter van den Hoogenband and
Phelps in the men’s 200 freestyle in Athens – the so-called “Race of the
Century” – but Lochte’s victory makes the 2012 race even more palatable and he
is already looking forward to another showdown with Phelps in it next
“Michael and I have been training head to head for about eight
years, back and forth [and] we will keep on pushing each other for the 2012
Olympics,” Lochte told reporters. “I’m definitely a different swimmer after
2008, smarter, stronger.
“I knew Michael was going to go out fast, but I
realized that I’ve got a shot. I didn’t know I was the winner right
“I was happy. That kind of feeling is really good, all the hard
work had paid off.”
While Phelps was forced to settle for silver, he
showed that two years of frustration may be about to end when he qualified third
fastest for the men’s 200 meter butterfly final.
No longer the unbeatable
force in the event, Phelps still proved he had enough in reserve to match it
with the best in the world after two tough races within the space of 90
The home crowd also had plenty to celebrate on Tuesday when Zhao
Jing produced a fast finish to overcome Olympic champion Natalie Coughlin in the
women’s 100m backstroke and snatch the host country’s second gold in the
“The gold medal has significant meaning to me,” Zhao
“It is definitely a huge boost to my confidence in the build-up to
the London Olympic Games.”
The host nation had more to celebrate when
they grabbed two bronze medals with Ji Liping in the women’s 100 breaststroke
and Li Xuanxu in the women’s 1,500 freestyle.
Rebecca Soni of the United
States cemented her credentials as the world’s pre-eminent breaststroker with
her victory over Australia’s Leisel Jones in the 100 breaststroke final and also
set up another exciting clash in London.Reuters contributed to this