World swimming championships 2022: Isaac Cooper robbed of gold in 50m backstroke starting drama, what happened, Day 4 results

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Australian young gun Isaac Cooper has been sensationally robbed of a gold medal at the world short course championships after he was forced to race the 50m backstroke final twice in farcical scenes.

Instead of the usual beep going off to start the race, a loud blaring noise similar to an emergency alarm sounded, signalling the start of the race was void.

It was initially thought the noise may have been triggered by a false start but it was in fact due to a technical malfunction with the starting system.

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But instead of a rope falling down to stop the swimmers at the 15m mark, five of the eight swimmers including Cooper swam the race at full pelt.

Oblivious to the blaring noise, the 18-year-old swam the race as normal, breaking his own junior world record in a time of 22.49sec.

But it was all for nothing as the field was forced to swim the race again an hour later.

A statement from swimming’s governing body said: “A technical error by an official occurred at the start of the men’s 50m backstroke final.

“After speaking with all the competing athletes and team officials from the competing countries, it was unanimously agreed that the competition would be re-swum. World Aquatics apologises for the error.”

The second time around it was heartbreak for Cooper, who then finished second in 22.72sec, 0.09sec behind American Ryan Murphy.

Agonisingly, Cooper’s first time of 22.49sec would have been enough for him to win gold.

Murphy, who finished second behind Cooper in the first final, admitted the gold medal should have been around the Australian’s neck.

“I talked to him real quick after the race but I’m going to make sure to talk to him and just let him know that in my mind he won that race,” Murphy said.

‘It’s definitely a mix of emotions.

“That’s certainly the first time I’ve experienced something like that.

“From my perspective it’s a little bit disappointing the way that it shook out. I feel for Isaac.

“He’s 18 or 19 years old. Like going for your first individual world title. I think that’s huge and an incredible accomplishment.

“What I would tell him is he’s 18. He’s got a bright career ahead of him. He’s a great talent and he’s going to have a lot of opportunities. Obviously it’s disappointing the way this one shook out but I think he’s going to have a lot of world titles in his name come the end of his career.”

The chaotic scenes resembled a school carnival instead of a world championships and there was disbelief there wasn’t a rope on hand to prevent the swimmers from expending all their energy.

“They’ve got to notify the athletes,” Ian Thorpe said on Channel 9.

“This is rubbish. They have to notify them. There should’ve been a drop. This is a false start at the 15m mark. So that all athletes knew. There is a huge disadvantage to those that have continued.”

Ariarne Titmus said she would be fuming if she was in Cooper’s shoes and had to swim the race again after he had effectively won his maiden world title.

“There should’ve been a 15m rope that goes down when there is a false start … so that it stops the boys from swimming the rest of the race.

“These guys are pure sprinters, 50m swimmers. So to ask them to get up and go again, straightaway, is not fair.

“Isaac has been vocal in the fact that after a 50 or 100m effort he can feel quite sick and even vomit. He’s technically just become world champion and now has to do this race again.

“I would be pretty upset. He has just done a PB, technically looked at the scoreboard and thought he’s become world champion then he hears no crowd.

“I have never seen this happen before. The reason this has happened is because no rope went down.

“Where you surface at the 15m mark, there should have been that rope to stop the boys from completing the race.”

Giaan Rooney added: “This is very confusing down here on pool deck. In fact, it’s chaos.

“It is unfair for them to now line up and expect to swim a race right after that has happened.”

It’s a heartbreaking result for Cooper, who was on track to win his first individual world title after he picked up bronze in the 100m backstroke and gold in the 4×50 men’s freestyle relay.

He was in tears stepping on the podium and hugged his family in the stands after accepting his silver medal.

“I called my coach and he was crying and that made me cry even more,” he said.

Cooper explained: “I heard the go and then I heard a second horn and I thought, ‘I’m here at worlds I’m not going to stop in case everyone else keeps going’,”

“The reality is normally in this situation there’s a rope at 15m that will drop to stop the swimmer. But that wasn’t there so we race or not to race.

“I’ve never seen that happen before and it’s a shame I had to be in that situation. But the gold medal isn’t mine because of how it played out.

“I definitely didn’t want to do another (race). I’m not someone who’s known for their fitness. “I came here to swim the fastest 50 that I can. I came here to become world champion.”

Cooper has been in sensational form in Melbourne in his return to the Dolphins after he was sent home from a Commonwealth Games training camp in Europe earlier this year because disciplinary reasons, including the misuse of medication.

Earlier, Lani Pallister blitzed the field to claimed her fourth gold medal of the meet in the 100m freestyle.

Australia claimed silvers in the mixed 4x50m freestyle relay and the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay, while Mollie O’Callaghan won bronze in the 50m backstroke.

Originally published as ‘Rubbish’: Aussie Isaac Cooper robbed of gold in farcical scenes at world swimming championships

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