Published on March 8th, 2014 | by John Lyons


Swimming star Köbrich kicks off with a silver

Chilean swimming star Kristel Köbrich was cheered to the rafters as she claimed silver on the first night of the South American Games.

Santiago – Chilean fans packed the newly-built Centro Acuático to see if the 28-year-old could win the country´s first gold medal of the tournament in the 400 metres freestyle.

It was always going to be a tall order as Venezuelan Andreina Pinto is the South American record holder and qualified fastest for the final, three seconds quicker than Kobrich.

Pinto took the lead straight from the start and established a healthy lead. In the end, the 22-year-old won with 4mins 10.71secs, while Köbrich finished second in 4.15.15. Brazil´s Manuella Duarte took the bronze with 4.20.86.

Köbrich has a quick chance to gain revenge against the Venezuelan as the two are going to go head-to-head in the final of the 800m freestyle at 6.30pm today.

It could be one of the races of the championship. Pinto is the South American record-holder with 8.25.93, while Köbrich classified with 8.26.75.

The longer distance gives Köbrich a greater chance, but she will have to pull out all the stops to finish ahead of the woman who beat her to gold in Medellin four years ago.

Aside from Köbrich, there wasn’t too much else for the Chilean fans to cheer last night. The women finished fifth in the 4x200m freestyle relay, while Eduardo Opazo and Benjamin Quintanilla came sixth and seventh in the 200m backstroke final respectively.

In truth, the night belonged to Brazil and Argentina, who won seven of the eight gold medals on offer. Brazil led the way with four – Leonardo De Deus won the men’s 200m backstroke in 2.00.28, Daynara Ferreira De Paula clinched the women´s 100m butterfly in 59.35, Felipe Lima took the men’s 100m breaststroke with 1.01.63 and the women’s 4x200m freestyle relay team triumphed in 8.18.34.

Argentina’s gold medal treble came from Martin Naidich in the men’s 800m freestyle (8.05.28), Virginia Bardach in the women´s 200m individual medley (2.19.44) and Federico Grabich in the men’s 200m freestyle (1.49.39).

The latter was one of the races of the night. Peru’s Mauricio Fiol was the surprise leader in lane one at halfway, but he was gradually reeled in over the second part of the race.

Brazil´s Nicolas Cesar De Oliveira won the silver with 1.49.72, 0.33 behind winner Grabich, while Fiol took the bronze with 1.50.30.

After this morning´s qualifiers, attention will turn to this evening´s second night of finals. They get underway at 6.30pm with the attractive duel between Pinto and Kobrich in the 800m freestyle.

Perhaps Köbrich can go one better than last night and really give the Chilean fans something to cheer about.

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