NANJING, China -- Three days, three girls and three medals.
Hannah Moore joined Meghan Small and Clara Smiddy atop the Youth Olympic podium and continued Team USA’s backstroke dominance in dramatic fashion, earning a share of the gold medal alongside Italy’s Ambra Esposito in the women’s 200-meter backstroke final.
“I’ve never been in so much pain in my life coming into that last 50 meters. I couldn’t feel my body,” said Moore. “All I could think of this whole day was how badly I wanted a gold medal.”
She certainly earned it. Ahead for a majority of the race, Moore’s lead slipped away in the last 50 meters, but she was able to muster up one final push in the closing moments to hit the wall in 2:10.42.
Smiddy – Moore’s future roommate at the University of Michigan who captured the 100 backstroke gold medal Monday – helped prepare her for the moment and calm her pre-race nerves.
“Clara said, ‘Oh, you feel the crowd on that last 50 and you just get a burst of momentum. Trust me, it happens.’ It did happen, and I just went for it.”
The top-ranked women’s high school swimmer in North Carolina, Moore’s determination and sense of purpose is what sets her apart from the rest of the field.
Head U.S. coach Jeri Marshburn has witnessed this drive first hand.
“I have to say, she is one of the most focused people I’ve ever met in my life,” Marshburn noted. “She’s the first one in the water every morning. Her work ethic – she’s on top of everything. She has goals and knows you need to put the time in to achieve those goals.”
Moore’s talent in the pool extends beyond the backstroke. She also claimed the 2013 junior national title in the 500 freestyle and holds the state record in the 100 backstroke. Her rise among the youth ranks over the past years earned her a spot at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming, in which she advanced to the semifinals and finished 11th in the 200 backstroke among the nation’s elite.
Joining her at those events was four-time 2012 Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin, whom Moore considers an idol.
“She does the 200 backstroke. I would love to have that success. It’s a little hard because I’m not 6-2 like her, but I’ll get there.”
There’s no reason to believe she can’t. With a gold medal to her name in her first international meet and an impressive showing at trials, she has her eyes set on a bigger path – the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“I’m really confident I can improve in the 200 backstroke and I made semis in 2012, so my goal is to make finals in 2016, and we’ll see,” Moore said. I hope this isn’t the end, and I hope there’s much more to come. There’s nowhere to go but up right now.”
With unparalleled commitment in the water, there’s a sense that Moore will be standing on many more podiums in the future.
In other swimming action, the U.S. advanced to the final of the men’s 4x100, in which it placed seventh with a time of 3:28.75.