Hanna-Maria Seppälä takes two medals in 25m World Swimming Championships
Hanna-Maria Seppälä, probably Finland's brightest hope for a swimming medal at the Beijing Olympics, remained on track at the short-course World Championships, held in the 25-metre pool, in Manchester at the weekend.
She took a silver medal in the 100 metres medley on Friday with a European record time of 59.62. It wasn't quite enough to hold off Shayne Reese of Australia, who took gold by a margin of 0.04 seconds.
Earlier in the day, Seppälä had swum into third place in the final of the 100 metres freestyle. In order to collect the bronze medal, she had to improve on the Finnish record for the distance, which was previously in her name at 53.29. In the final she went under 53 seconds for the first time, and the clocks stopped at 52.94.
The freestyle gold went by a comfortable margin to Marleen Veldhuis of The Netherlands, in 52.17.
On Sunday, Seppälä was again in action, having made it through to the final of the 50 metres freestyle.
She could not quite recreate the form of the semi-final or the first round of heats, where she set a new Finnish record of 24.51, and her final time of 24.68 left her adrift in eighth place. Veldhuis was again in a class of her own, with a time of 23.25, more than half a second ahead of her nearest rival.
Seppälä has now taken part this year in the 25-metre Worlds and the European Championships in the 50-metre pool, where she also collected a silver in the 100 metres freestyle.
From now on for the next few months she will be concentrating on training for Beijing, though her programme will include at least one international competition and a couple of races in the Finnish Championships before the Olympics.
There she expects to take part in the 50 metres and 100 metres freestyle, and perhaps in one other event, possibly the 100 metres backstroke.
The 23-year-old from Kerava first came to prominence in 2003, with a surprise gold medal in the 100 metres freestyle at the Barcelona World Championships, and she has three short-course European Championship golds in the 100 metres medley from 2005, 2006, and 2007.
The Athens Olympics in 2004 proved to be something of a disappointment, with her best placing being only 12th in the 100m freestyle, so she has every reason to be hungry for success this August.
Hanna-Maria Seppälä (Wikipedia)
Hanna-Maria Seppälä´s own homepage