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Soni Wins Silver In 100m Breaststroke

Soni Wins Silver In 100m Breaststroke
Rebecca Soni, left, stands with gold medalist Leisel Jones of Australia, center, and bronze medalist Mirna Jukic of Austria, right.

USC senior Rebecca Soni, a two-time 2008 NCAA champion and the 2008 Olympic Trials champion in the 200-meter breaststroke, won a silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke Tuesday morning at the Beijing Olympics.

Soni set a personal best in 1:06.73, finishing second to Australian world record holder Leisel Jones, who won the race in 1:05.17. Austria’s Mirna Jukic won bronze (1:07.34).

Soni, considered by some a long shot to earn a medal in the event, turned fifth at the midway point and was 0.32 out of second place, but her back final 50 meters of 35.17 was second-fastest in the race, helping the New Jersey native earn a spot on the medal stand.

Soni was not originally scheduled to compete in the event after finishing fourth in the event at the Olympic Trials. But first-place finisher Jessica Hardy withdrew from the U.S. team after testing positive for a banned substance on July 21. With the deadline for adding swimmers to the team having passed, USA Swimming could only add a swimmer to the event from within the existing USA Olympic squad. That berth went to Soni.

“I don’t even know how I feel yet,” Soni told reporters immediately after the race. “It’s still registering. Who could ask for more?”

Soni, considered a stronger medal contender in the 200m breast, will swim in the prelims of the event on Wednesday. She will also likely swim in the 4x100m medley relay.

“I’m going to try to keep it rolling,” Soni said. “It’s a good sign for the 200. It takes a lot of the pressure off. After the first swim, especially if you win a medal, it makes the next swim a lot easier, a little more relaxed.”

USC is currently being represented by 41 past, present and future athletes at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

Also on Tuesday, former Trojans Rodrigo Castro (Brazil) and Ous Mellouli (Tunisia) finished 18th and 19th, respectively in the 200m freestyle, while Tamas Kerekjarto (Hungary) was 22nd in the 200m butterfly.

Incoming freshman women’s swimmer Katinka Hosszu just missed qualifying for the semifinals of the 200m IM, taking 17th in prelims. She was also 12th in the 400m IM.

Former Trojans Erik Vendt and Klete Keller could see action in prelims of the 4x200m free relay, scheduled for Tuesday evening in Beijing.

Soni Wins Silver In 100m Breaststroke

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