Ex-Wolverine Siobhan Haughey eyes Hong Kong's first swimming medal at Olympics

The Detroit News
Former Wolverine Siobhan Haughey, of Hong Kong, swims in a women's 200-meter freestyle semifinal at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Tuesday in Tokyo, Japan.

Former Michigan Wolverine Siobhan Haughey is one step away from winning Hong Kong's first swimming medal at the Olympics.

The 23-year-old Haughey advanced to the final of the 200-meter freestyle with the second-fastest time on Monday night.

She had been training at the University of Michigan until the COVID-19 pandemic forced pools to close and prompted her return to Hong Kong in June.

"Last year, I wasn't even sure this (Olympics) would be happening," Haughey told Reuters. "I'm just so thankful and feel so grateful. I get to race the best in the world again and it's a great experience so far."

The 200-meter freestyle final is at 9:40 p.m. Wednesday on NBC.

Canton's Allison Schmitt failed to advance in the 200-meter freestyle after finishing fifth in her semifinal and 10th overall. She has another medal shot in the 4x200 relay later in the week.

Haughey helped lead Michigan to the 2016 Big Ten swimming championship and represented Hong Kong in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Also, University of Michigan senior Maggie MacNeil won Canada’s first gold medal in the pool with a victory in the women’s 100-meter butterfly.

MacNeil, the reigning world champion, touched first in 55.59 seconds, edging out Zhang Yufei of China (55.64) for the top spot.

In other local results, Valerie Barthelemy (UM) finished 10th in the triathlon and Sam Mikulak (UM) and the men's gymnastics team wound up in fifth place.

Gymnastics

The team’s outfits looked similar to the others in the room as the arena lights gleamed off crystals crisscrossing their chests and down their crimson and white sleeves.

But the German gymnastics team’s new Olympic suits didn’t stop at their hips.

For decades, female gymnasts have worn bikini-cut leotards. In qualifying on Sunday, however, the German team instead wore unitards that stretched to their ankles, intending to push back against sexualization of women in gymnastics.

The Tokyo Olympics are the first Summer Games since Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor from Farmington Hills, was sent to prison for 176 years for sexually abusing hundreds of gymnasts, including some of the sport’s greatest stars. At his sentencing, athletes — some of them Olympians — described how the sport’s culture allowed for abuse and objectification of young women and girls.

Male gymnasts wear comparatively body-covering clothes: singlets, with loose shorts for their floor exercise and vault, and long pants on bar and pommel horse routines.

The German team first wore unitards at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in April.

Sarah Voss, a 21-year-old German, said they weren’t sure they would decide to wear them again during Olympic competition until they got together before the meet.

“We sat together today and said, OK, we want to have a big competition,” Voss said. “We want to feel amazing, we want to show everyone that we look amazing.”

Their wardrobe revolution, while widely championed, has not so far started a trend. Leotards that leave the legs bare were worn by every other female gymnast during qualifying at the Tokyo Games.

At 4-foot-8, American superstar Simone Biles said in June that she prefers leotards because they lengthen the leg and make her appear taller.

“But I stand with their decision to wear whatever they please and whatever makes them feel comfortable,” Biles said.

“So if anyone out there wants to wear a unitard or leotard, it’s totally up to you.”

Matt Cowan, the chief commercial officer for GK Elite, the U.S.’ premier leotard manufacturer, said most requests for unitards now come from countries the require modesty for cultural and religious reasons. They have otherwise seen no rush toward catsuits.

“Would we do it? Absolutely. We have the capabilities of designing it and doing it, and we have done it,” Cowan said.

“But from a consumer demand perspective, we are not there yet.”

Weather warning

First, the sun. Now: the wind and the rain.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed by the pandemic and opened under oppressive heat, are due for another hit of nature’s power: a typhoon arriving Tuesday morning that is forecast to disrupt at least some parts of the Games.

“Feels like we’re trying to prepare for bloody everything,” said New Zealand rugby sevens player Andrew Knewstubb.

Don’t worry, Japanese hosts say: In U.S. terms, the incoming weather is just a mid-grade tropical storm. And the surfers at Tsurigasaki beach say Tropical Storm Nepartak could improve the competition so long as it doesn’t hit the beach directly.