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Zhao Jing crowned 'backstroke queen' at worlds

SHANGHAI - China's 20-year-old Zhao Jing stole spotlight at the 14th FINA World Championships on Tuesday as the backstroke talent upset American favourite Natalia Coughlin and delivered a last-gasp victory in the women's 100m backstroke.

Zhao, winner and world record holder of the 50m backstroke at 2009 Rome worlds, staged a strong comeback with the powerful stroke in the final 20 meters. She overtook the lead with a minor advantage to touch the wall first in 59.05 seconds, her personal best, sending red-clad and drum-beating fans into celebration in the second final of the night.

Coughlin, the Olympic gold medalist of the discipline, led the first 50 meters but was exceeded by Zhao and Russian Anastasia Zueva in the final spurt. Zueva was 0.01 second behind for the silver, followed by Coughlin at 59.15.

"The gold medal has significant meaning to me. It is definitely a huge boost to my confidence in the build-up to the London Olympic Games," said Zhao, who burst into tears after winning the title.

"I didn't swim at my full strength in the semifinal. And after the semi, my coach and I studied video replays carefully and he asked me to pay more attention to details," added the winner, who ranked third in the semifinal.

Zhao owed her victory to the trianing in Australia. "It's my personal best, which is not easy," said the Hubei native. "The eight-week training in Australia helped me a lot."

Zhao changed to 100m backstroke after 2009. "The gold was different to me," she said. "Last time I won the 50m gold, and this time it's the 100m. And next year is the Olympic Games and the worlds is for the preparation."

The swimming talent jumped to fame after winning gold medal and breaking Asian record of the 50m backstroke at 2006 Doha Asian Games, and she broke the 100m backstroke Asian record at the 2008 National Championships.

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