ROME (AFP) –
Japan’s Ryosuke Irie clinched a crucial victory over France’s 100m backstroke world champion Camille Lacourt at the Sette Colli Trophy on Friday, just six weeks out from the Olympic Games.
Lacourt has dominated the discipline for the last two seasons and already boasted the season’s best time of 52.75sec to Irie’s 52.91.
But he was beaten by the Japanese on Friday with Irie winning in 53.71sec to Lacourt’s 53.77 with the Frenchman overtaken in the closing metres.
The result reflected last year’s rivalry between the two when Irie beat Lacourt in Monaco, six weeks before the world championships where the French swimmer prevailed and the Japanese finished with the bronze medal.
“I am happy to have won but I have only won this race. The presence of Camille gave this race a real Olympic flavour,” said Irie.
Lacourt shrugged off Friday’s setback.
“I’m not really worried. Irie has been in good form this year, swimming some very good times. In international meets, he is always there,” he said.
“I have done a lot of work, so has he and when we get to London, we will both be in great form. It will be a beautiful fight, I am sure of that.”
In the women’s competition, Dutch swimmer Ranomi Kromowidjojo confirmed her status as favourite for the 100m freestyle, winning her event in 53.09sec, the second fastest time in the world in 2012.