LONDON // Velimir Stjepanovic, the Dubai-based swimmer representing Serbia at London 2012, says he has plenty of energy left with which to push for a place in the 200 metres butterfly final tonight.
The UAE-raised swimmer fired a warning to a high-class field in the event by posting 1 minute, 54.99 seconds in winning his morning heat at the Aquatics Centre.
That was over half a second faster than Michael Phelps, the highly decorated United States Olympian, managed, and was the third fastest out of five heats in the event.
Stjepanovic’s fine swim caught the BBC commentators, who were focused on the better known Chad Le Clos and Wu Peng, unawares – and it even surprised the teenaged swimmer himself.
The former Jumeirah College schoolboy always says he is not a morning swimmer, so he was happy with such a fast time, which secured his place in tonight’s semifinals.
“I did feel pretty good after the race, and there are a few places I can pick up a few points, so I am hoping to get that time down,” Stjepanovic said.
The likes of Phelps will also be expecting faster races tonight, meaning the Dubai-based hopeful will likely need to go close to the best has ever swum in order to make the final.
“If he does what he did this morning, maybe a touch faster, he should be OK,” said Chris Tidey, the former Great Britain swimmer who coaches Stjepanovic in Dubai.
“There is a Hungarian [Laszlo Cseh] and a Japanese guy [Takeshi Matsuda] behind him who I know can go quicker. There are a lot of people who could come through.”