Monday, July 30, 2012

Plainsboro's Soni looks forward to 200, not back at silver

Staff Report
LONDON -­ If Plainsboro native Rebecca Soni is dwelling on her narrow loss in the 100-meter breaststroke Monday at the Olympics, she isn’t showing it.
"My focus is on the 200 (meter breaststroke),” Soni said after taking the silver medal and finishing just eight hundreths of a second.“It makes it difficult to do both events really well. I am happy where I am.”

Soni fell just short in her quest to add an Olympic championship in the 100 to her world title from last year, as a furious comeback gave her the silver just behind Lithuania’s 15-year-old star Ruta Meilutyte. Soni was fourth after the first 50 meters, but she quickly moved into contention with a surge after the turn. If the race was another five meters long, she would have won her second Olympic gold medal. “The race felt good in general. The second half is where I strive (thrive). I was not expecting to touch (the) 50 (mark) first but I expected to be in a position to get to the wall first,” she said. Instead, it’s time to move on to the 200-meter breaststroke, an event Soni set the world record in during a gold medal run in 2008 in Beijing. She also won two other silver medals in the 100 breaststroke and the 4x100 medley relay. “I cannot say I am completely satisfied, especially because it was so close. I gave it my all. I think I did pretty well tonight and I cannot wait to race the 200,” Soni said. Heats begin Wednesday for that event. The race had a bizarre start as fellow American Breeja Larson appeared to false start, but a malfunction of the starting gun gave her new life. But all eight swimmers had to wait around a few minutes to start after taking their marks once already.
“It was mostly just sitting there and waiting, not knowing how much time you have. It was just unnerving but I don’t think I would have done much better. It’s definitely a strange thing to happen at the Olympics,” Soni said. “I felt so bad because I know she is cold (after jumping in early and waiting for the re-start). I am sure it got in her head. Maybe she could have had a much better race.” Soni’s strong run to the well nearly stole the gold from the Lithuanian teen. “I can’t believe it. It’s too much for me. I really can’t say anything,” Meilutyte said.“It was hard and difficult. At the moment I can’t speak too much. But it means a lot to me and I’m so proud.” Soni, who won three gold medals in the 2011 world championships, was impressed with the youngster’s performance. “It was definitely a surprise. I guess after the prelims I knew she would be a great competitor. It’s amazing to do that at 15,” Soni said. “She looked great in all the rounds. She swam three amazing races. I am honoured to have been able to swim with her because I know she will do great in the future.”


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