Britain claim hat-trick of Worlds medals on day five

27 Jul 2023

Duncan Scott and Tom Dean claimed respective silver and bronze in the Men’s 200m Individual Medley and Lauren Cox sprinted to Women's 50m Backstroke bronze as Britain moved their Fukuoka medal tally to five on day five.

Scott, who is the current Olympic silver medallist in the event, replicated his achievement from Tokyo thanks to a controlled performance across all four strokes. Going well with the eventual winner Leon Marchand down the butterfly length, the 26-year-old fell down the pecking order on the backstroke leg, before touching in third with one length to go following a strong breaststroke.

It was on those final 50m where he made the biggest impression on the race, thanks to the second-fastest time on that freestyle leg. Taking second place on the way home, he gained ground on Marchand before touching in a time of 1:55.95 and taking his first World Championship medal in the event.

After having to miss last year’s World Championships following illness, the University of Stirling man was happy to be up towards the top-end of the event once more when speaking after the race.

“I was absolutely gutted to miss out on Worlds last year. What I love to do is compete on the highest stage, and not getting to do that last year was really upsetting," he said. 

"Look, it's the first time I've raced some of those boys - a lot of them are really young, Carson, Leon and then it's the first time on an international stage with Deano, really. I'm just really happy to be back in the mix there. I stuck to what I wanted to do really well. I was just hurting at 150m more than I thought I would be - but to give myself a chance in the race, I knew I had to be there at 150m. I was really happy with that."

Dean took a more unconventional method on his way to the podium, courtesy of a world-class back end from lane one. After finding himself with ground to make up following the first two lengths, the 23-year-old took his first world medal in the event off the back of the fastest freestyle split of the field. After slowly moving up the pecking order on the breaststroke, his prowess on the final leg showed as he powered towards the leaders and got his hand to the wall in third.

Duncan Scott and Tom Dean 200 IM Worlds 2023 [Getty]
Scott took a memorable return to the world stage

The result adds to the silver medal he won in the Men’s 200m Freestyle earlier in the competition, and is his fifth medal in total at a World Championships, as Scott adds a sixth to his list of accolades. He paid tribute to his relationships with those at the top of his events following his performance.

"I love being up there on the podium with my teammates because we are really good mates, it's a united front with everyone on this team. Duncan, I've obviously raced him for years and shared podiums with him at the highest level and every domestic meet in between - so doing that again on the world stage just shows how dominant Britain are," he said.

"Unfortunately they happen to be really dominant in all the events I swim, I always seem to find myself saying that - 200m Free and 200m IM, we are really forces to be reckoned with. It's brilliant, I couldn't have asked for a better result!"

Meanwhile, Lauren Cox took the bronze medal in the Women’s 50m Backstroke at her debut World Championships following a stellar performance from lane three amidst a breadth of international talent as she opened the night’s medals account for GB.

After qualifying third fastest following the semi-finals, the 21-year-old looked in good form as the length progressed in-front of what was a vocal Fukuoka crowd – gaining on those who had a better start following the underwater phase.

Going stroke-for-stroke with the leaders, the European medallist added a world medal to her tally as she spotted her finish to a tee – touching the wall in a time of 27.20 and taking the first women’s swimming medal of the World Championships this year, and the first individual women's medal at a World Champs for Britain since Jazz Carlin and Siobhan-Marie O'Connor in Kazan in 2015.

“I'm over the moon, it's such a good feeling, it's amazing. I couldn't believe it, to be honest! I needed to look for about 30 seconds at the board before I could be like, 'wow, that's me!'" said Cox.

“I couldn't have asked for any more here. When I got here, my goal was to make a final, so to come away with a medal is just incredible. My 100m has gone well, but there's stuff to work on which is super motivating. I'm more motivated than ever to get back for next season and see what I can do at trials in April for Paris.”

Lauren Cox bronze 50m Back Worlds 2023 [Getty]
Lauren Cox took bronze on her World Championship debut

The Women’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay team took part in the final race of the evening as they were involved with a tough battle for the medals against China, before eventually having to settle for fourth at the end of another pulsating event.

In a race that was won by Australia in a new world record time, it was clear from the get-go that the bronze medal was up for grabs after they and the Americans took the race out – with Freya Colbert going well with them after the first leg and clocking a new personal best of 1:56.16 on the lead-off.

Handing over to relay-veteran Lucy Hope, it was the second leg where Hope put in most of the groundwork against those in the adjacent lanes, dropping them with a solid swim to set off Abbie Wood to chase down the Chinese swimmer who occupied third.

The 24-year-old went a long way towards that objective – gaining ground to hand over to Freya Anderson with the group in striking distance of the bronze medal. Freya went out strong and built an advantage in third, only for that lead to exchange hands in the closing stages and the GB quartet to place fourth in the world, a repeat of the 4x100m Freestyle Relay result from day one.

Reflecting on the performance, Abbie said: "Comparing it to last year, we've dropped like four seconds in a year. It's a fast improving team, and I think it will get all the other girls wanting to be as strong as the boys - we're getting there, so hopefully into Paris, we can keep nudging up towards it." 

Matthew Richards returned off the back of his 200m Freestyle world title win to contest the 100m event. Going in lane four following his British record-setting performance in the semi-final, the 20-year-old had the best start of the field – maintaining his pace with the adjacent lanes to get to the halfway point in the mix for the medals.

Early charges from Jack Alexy of the USA and Maxime Grousset of France from the outside lanes proved fruitful as they maintained their leads right the way through to the end of the race to take silver and bronze respectively, as Australia’s Kyle Chalmers dominated the second length to get himself out in front and take the gold.

Richards did well to keep with the group and lower the British record time once again to 47.45, but he missed out on a medals place by just 0.03 seconds after strong touches by the aforementioned pair.

Matt Richards 100m Free Fukuoka 2023 [Getty]
Matt Richards

Opening the GB involvement on the night, Laura Stephens finished in seventh place for the Women’s 200m Butterfly. In a race that was eventually won by Canada’s Summer McIntosh in a new world junior record time, 24-year-old Stephens again paced her race nicely, improving on her semi-final time and moving things on again to give her a result to build on heading into Olympic year.

Also in action on the night were Oliver Morgan and Brodie Williams, as they both went in the semi-finals of the Men’s 200m Backstroke. Morgan went in the first semi-final and put in a solid performance against the pace of what turned out to be the faster of the two. Improving on his time from the heats, he took sixth in his respective race and an overall ninth place, which replicates his performance from the 100 metre event earlier in the week, with Williams finishing just behind in eleventh.

Kara Hanlon and Greg Butler were both in heats action for their respective 200m Breaststroke events in the morning’s session, with Hanlon just missing out on the semi-finals in 19th and Butler first swim at a World Championships placing him in 23rd.