White Rock’s Hilary Caldwell has made her way to the podium at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
On Friday night in Rio de Janeiro, Caldwell placed third in the final of the women’s 200-m backstroke, boosting Canada’s medal count to 10.
The winner was Maya Dirado of the U.S., who clocked a time of two minutes and 5.99 seconds to upset pre-race favourite Katinka Hosszu of Hungary by 0.06 seconds. Caldwell’s time was 2:07.54.
‘’I was happy with the bronze medal but I wanted the gold. I felt a 2:05 time was in me and I think made a little scowl when I saw my time,” Caldwell said in a rews release issued late Friday by Swimming Canada.
Caldwell’s coach Ryan Mallette was delighted with her performance.
‘’She won an Olympic medal and I thought that was absolutely fantastic,’’ he said. ‘’Every swimmer aspires to be the best they can be and you always want to take that one step forward in the final.’’
John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s high performance director says the medal performance is a great accomplishment for Caldwell.
‘’Hilary had a sensational swim to get on the podium,’’ said Atkinson. ‘’She probably wanted more from the time but an Olympic medal is worth more than any time.’’
The 25-year-old Caldwell – who honed her craft with the South Surrey-based Pacific Sea Wolves as a young swimmer and now trains in Victoria – began competition Thursday, when both she and Canadian teammate Dominique Bouchard advanced through the opening-round heats with relative ease.
In heats, Caldwell had the second-fastest time – two minutes, 7.40 seconds – while Bouchard was seventh.
The only swimmer faster than Caldwell was Hosszu.
Later Thursday, Caldwell returned to the pool and punched her ticket to Friday’s final by winning one of two semifinals.
No matter tonight’s result, Caldwell was assured of a best-ever Olympic finish.
Competing in the same event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Caldwell failed to advanced past the first round, finishing 18th in the heats.
She said watching her teammates have so much success in the water this week – led by 16-year-old phenom Penny Oleksiak, who has four medals – helped push her this time around.
“I was antsy to get racing,” she said in a news release issued late Thursday. “Seeing all the girls on the team swimming so well in the first five days and being on the podium, I definitely watched to have a good race (in heats).”