No coach, no worries for Larkin
SWIMMING: Backstroke ace Mitch Larkin has successfully defended his world short-course 100m backstroke title in Windsor, Canada.
The 23-year-old two-time Olympian from Brisbane confirmed his rating as one of the world's finest exponents of backstroke and proved even when things are a little rocky you can still be achieve great things.
Larkin, who won silver in the 200m backstroke in Rio, has been without a full-time coach since leaving long-time mentor Michael Bohl after the Rio Olympics - trialling several coaches on the eastern seaboard.
After experiencing a minor fall a week before arriving in Windsor, he knew he would be up against it trying to defend the crown he won in Doha in 2014, 12 months before taking out the 100m-200m backstroke double at last year's Kazan world championships.
He put himself in the race from the start and powered off every wall to take the gold medal by just 0.04sec from Russian Andrei Shabasov, with China's Xu Jiayu third.
Larkin touched the wall in 49.65sec ahead of the Russian in 49.69sec and Xu Jiayu in 50.02sec.
"This week has shown me a lot about the mental side of swimming and that if you really buy into your races, trust your ability and trust the work you've done then anything is possible,” Larkin said.
"I think the power of the mind is really incredible ... (winning back-to-back) is amazing and certainly a big surprise this time around.
"The short course was not a big focus of mine with the Olympics on this year. I took some time off but I guess mentally I bought into it a lot tonight and set my goal high.
"I knew if I executed my skills well and mentally bought in anything was going to be possible.
"To come away with a gold tonight in such a close race is a pretty amazing feeling.”
Larkin revealed he received some timely observations about his breakouts, the transition from kicking to swimming, from the Australian coaches after the semi-finals.
"I got into trouble last night for my breakouts being a little bit sloppy so the plan was to nail them tonight if I could and swim a strong back end,” Larkin said.
"I was able to execute that well tonight and as it was I was able to get my hand on the wall first and come away with the gold medal.”
While Larkin sits on top of the world, there was disappointment for leading women's backstroker Emily Seebohm, who missed bronze in her 100m backstroke final by just 0.01sec.
Seebohm, who came from sixth at the 50m turn, clocked 56.46sec, with British youngster Georgia Davies edging Seebohm out in 56.45sec.
The gold went to Hungary's Katinka Hosszu in 55.54sec with the local hero, Rio bronze medallist Kylie Masse, second in 56.24sec.
In other finals, Rio Olympian Daniel Smith found another gear over the final 50 metres to finish equal fifth in the 200m freestyle final - after turning in last place at the 150m mark.
After playing a key role in the stirring 4x100m freestyle relay bronze, Smith stepped up to clock 1:43.22 in a final won by Korea's Park Taehwan in a new championship record of 1:41.03.