GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Canada’s Kylie Masse ended the reign of Australia’s Emily Seebohm in the women’s 100m backstroke at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games on Saturday and continued their exciting rivalry heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Masse clocked a Commonwealth Games record 58.63 seconds to pip Seebohm by 0.03 seconds in the lunge for the wall at the Gold Coast Aquatics centre. Canada’s Taylor Ruck finished third.
It was the third time the 22-year-old Masse had broken the Commonwealth Games record in the past two days and inched her closer to her own world mark of 58.10 set in Budapest last year.
“It means a lot to win. My goal coming in was to get on top of the podium. I’m happy with that. I can’t complain,” Masse said.
“I would have liked to have swum a bit faster. I’m really happy with it. I feel more fit and capable of going a bit faster but taking in all of the variables, I can’t complain.”
Masse said she had anticipated a tough final given the duel she had with Seebohm and the United States’ Kathleen Baker last year in Budapest, where she had to break the world record to beat the American who pipped Seebohm for silver by 0.01 seconds.
“I knew she was going to be right there,” Masse said of Seebohm on Saturday. “We were going to be there together.
“I had no idea how close she was at the end until I got out of the pool and I looked up at the times. She’s an incredible swimmer.”
Seebohm’s time of 58.66 was close to a personal best, something she was excited about.
“That’s so much faster than what I did at the trials,” said Seebohm, who had won the previous two Commonwealth titles. “I think I put together the best race that I could. I definitely left it all out there.”
The Australian had gone out fast and turned for home under world-record pace but Masse timed her final stroke to perfection.
“It’s unfortunate that it was so close but I was just trying to do my own race,” Seebohm said. “I think I did a pretty good job on my own.”
Seebohm said that Masse was proving not only a tough opponent but also a motivation tool for her.
“She’s the world-record holder, so to actually finish so close together is pretty incredible in itself,” Seebohm said.
“It’s just another battle and she makes me a better backstroker.”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Clare Fallon