Free from pressure, Iron Lady Hosszu turns to gold in Rio Games

Hungary's Katinka Hosszu is known as the Iron Lady for her brutal training regime and arduous competitive swimming schedule, and four years after Olympic disappointment in London she found the golden touch in Rio de Janeiro.

Hosszu crushed the opposition in the 400-metre individual medley Saturday to claim her first Olympic medal in 4 minutes 26.36 seconds, smashing the existing world record by over 2 seconds.

"Honestly I've been chasing that world record for quite some time now, it's been over seven years I've been thinking about it," she said.

Hosszu's dominance was apparent earlier on Saturday when she topped qualifying in the heats by around four seconds having gone within 0.15 seconds of beating Ye Shiwen's world record from the 2012 Games.

"This morning swimming close to the world record, it was a preliminary swim so I thought I could go faster," Hosszu admitted. "But I didn't realize I could go this much faster, it's unbelievable I could break it by so much."

Hosszu has added the 400m medley record to the 200m record which she already held.

Success is often sweeter for those who have first tasted the bitter pill of disappointment and Hosszu, still only 27, is entitled to relish her victory as much as any.

She finished fourth in the 400m medley in London and, out of the medals, contemplated quitting the sport having failed to build on her European gold in the event earlier that year and 2009 world title.

"It's been a long journey for me," she said. "In 2012 after graduating college and turning pro, I felt London was my time to do it, I felt pressure and was super nervous before final. I just wanted it to be over."

Husband and coach Shane Tusup talked her out of that drastic course of action and she redoubled her efforts while focussing on keep the pressure off.

"After working with Shane after London, we decided to keep working, keep racing," Hosszu explained. "I had a lot of fun. Coming into Rio I was a bit worried that when I got here I'd get the feeling again I had in London but I didn't get it at all."

Consecutive medley world crowns over 200m and 400m arrived in 2013 and 2015 but she still had to take care of the unfinished Olympic business from 2012.

"The past four years I've been preparing to race, I basically trained through the whole four years," she said. "I didn't take off more than a day.

"It's been a tough four years but I feel I've been making huge steps forward by building on the past years.

The big change is I can now say I'm an Olympic champion which I think I haven't really processed yet."

And after getting the taste of gold in Rio, she could well add to her haul in the week to come having also entered the 100m and 200m backstroke, the 200m butterfly and the 200m medley.

Last update: Sun, 07/08/2016 - 09:52
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