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11 July 2013 | in Swimming, Summer Universiade

Napoleon wins Gold for Australia


Ryan Napoleon

KAZAN - Australian Olympic swimmer Ryan Napoleon has won gold in the 400m freestyle at the Summer Universiade in Kazan. The 23-year-old qualified with the fastest time and narrowly touched the wall seven hundredths of a second in front of Japan’s Kohei Yamamoto.

Napoleon, who will also compete in the 400m, 800m, 1500m and 4x200m, conserved as much as he could with a time 3:48.96. “I turned with 50m to go and I saw him there next to me. But then I bit down and went for the last 50m.”

The Australian swimmer was ecstatic with the gold medal rather than his swim time. “I definitely came here wanting a gold medal. I don’t wake up every morning for nothing, so I definitely thought that I might be able to come away with a podium.”

“It wasn’t my best time, but it was enough to get the win. I’m really happy that it’s gold.” Napoleon, who swam in the men’s 4x200m relay team at the London Olympics in 2012 praised the professional swimming team environment at these games.

“In all honesty, it is probably one of the best teams I have been on. I didn’t make the world championship team, and I was a little bit disappointed about that. But after seeing the people on this trip, and coming to this meet everything has been so positive, the whole team atmosphere has been incredible.”         

He said his Olympic experience had been useful, but he might have changed things around if he had his time again. “I wish that it was the other way around, I would have liked to come to this Universiade before the Olympics. But it has been a great learning experience so far. The Universiade is just as much as the Olympics were.”

Napoleon becomes the second Australian gold medallist of the 12-day multi sport event, he joins diver Samantha Mills who won the first gold medal of the games. “I am really happy to help the Australian team. Not just the swimming team, but the Australian team as a whole.”

Ex-Australian swimmer and Chef De Mission Martin Robertson praised the efforts of Napoleon and fellow Aussie George O’Brien. “It is great to get up in the first event of the swimming. We are doing very well and it is good for the swim team to get off the start of the meet and it really lifts the team. I was in the stands with the guys and they all feed off of that win. It’s terrific.”

Napoleon received his medal off one of the most famous swimmers in history, Russia’s Vladimir ‘the monster of the waves’ Salnikov, the first man to ever swim under eight minutes in the 800-meter freestyle.

 

Thomas Dullard (AUS), FISU Young Reporter

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