Aussie teen Iona Anderson storms to world championship backstroke silver medal ahead of Paris Olympic Games

Staff Writers
The Nightly
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DOHA, QATAR - FEBRUARY 13: Silver Medalist, Iona Anderson of Team Australia poses with her medal after the Medal Ceremony for the Women's 100m Backstroke Final on day twelve of the Doha 2024 World Aquatics Championships at Aspire Dome on February 13, 2024 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
DOHA, QATAR - FEBRUARY 13: Silver Medalist, Iona Anderson of Team Australia poses with her medal after the Medal Ceremony for the Women's 100m Backstroke Final on day twelve of the Doha 2024 World Aquatics Championships at Aspire Dome on February 13, 2024 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images) Credit: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Australia’s Iona Anderson has powered to silver in the women’s 100m backstroke at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha, finishing second in a teenage rampage led by America’s Claire Curzan.

The 18-year-old West Australian was joined in the final on Tuesday by Queenslander Jaclyn Barclay - a year her junior at 17.

Anderson set a personal best, touching at 59.12 seconds behind a dominant Curzan (58.29), who is only 19 herself.

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“I am just grateful to be here on this team and to have the chance to race,” Anderson said.

“It’s given me a little boost before Olympic trials, and to just be on the world stage is incredible.”

Barclay showed Australia’s backstroke strength in the absence of reigning champion Kaylee McKeown, finishing just 0.10 seconds off the podium, swimming a strong 59.28 to finish fractionally behind Canada’s Ingrid Wilm.

With US superstar Katie Ledecky opting to stay at home, Simona Quadarella of Italy romped to another gold medal in the women’s 1500m freestyle.

Ledecky has won five of the last six world titles in the 1500 but decided to skip these COVID-delayed championships to focus on this year’s Paris Olympics.

Australia's Iona Anderson competes in a semi-final of the women's 100m backstroke swimming event during the 2024 World Aquatics Championships at Aspire Dome in Doha on February 12, 2024. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)
Australia's Iona Anderson competes in a semi-final of the women's 100m backstroke swimming event during the 2024 World Aquatics Championships at Aspire Dome in Doha. Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP

Quadarella began to pull away from the field around the 500m mark and finished nearly half a lap ahead in 15 minutes 46.99 seconds.

Li Bingjie of China took the silver in 15:56.62, just ahead of bronze medallist Isabel Gose of Germany.

Australia’s Maddy Gough finished in seventh place, in 16:16.85.

In the opening race of the night at Doha’s Aspire Dome, Hwang Sun-woo gave South Korea their second gold of the championships in the men’s 200 freestyle.

Hwang pushed the pace through the first two laps but American Luke Hobson led with 50 metres to go.

Hwang powered back to the front on the final lap, holding off Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys to win in 1:44.75. The bronze went to Hobson.

Australia’s Elijah Winnington finished seventh in 1:46.20.

“I don’t have a long-course gold medal,” Hwang, 20, said.

“But I did it today, so I’m very happy.”

Hunter Armstrong bounced back from a mix-up in the semi-finals, where he swam in the wrong lane, to win the men’s 100 backstroke in 52.68.

The US swimmer held off Spain’s Hugo Gonzalez, his training partner, who claimed silver. The bronze went to Greece’s Apostolos Christou.

Tang Qianting won the women’s 100 breaststroke in 1:05.92 to give China a second gold of the championships.

The silver went to Tes Schouten of the Netherlands and Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey grabbed a surprise bronze.

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