Siobhan Haughey’s gold medal at the 2017 World University Games women’s 100m freestyle helped cement her status as the best Hong Kong swimmer of all time.
She became the first Hongkonger to win a gold medal at the university games since Hannah Wilson won 2 golds for swimming in 2009, just weeks after becoming the first Hong Konger to make the finals at the World Aquatic Championships, where she finished fifth in the 200m. And, at just 19 years old, she keeps getting better.
In an exclusive interview with Young Post after her historic win, Haughey said she was very happy with her gold medal performance. "But I still have the 200m freestyle tomorrow so I still have to focus on the next race. But winning the 100m definitely gives me more confidence," she said.
She also told Young Post about her long term aspirations. "My long term goal would be going to 2020 Tokyo Olympics but I certainly have small goals along the way. I've been having a great summer so far so I'm optimistic about meeting my goals in the future!"
Haughey was considered a long-shot to even make the finals at the World Aquatic Championships, which featured swimming’s biggest stars like Katie Ledecky and Federica Pellegrini. This time, she was the favourite to win it all and, as usual, she didn’t disappoint.
Even if she is the underdog, and carrying the expectations of an entire country on her shoulders, Haughey’s approach is always the same. “I never put too much pressure on myself,” she said in a previous interview with Young Post. “I just train hard, prepare, and relax when I race. If I meet my goal, I’m happy. If I don’t, as long as I put in all my effort, I’ll still be happy.”
Her time of 54.10 second was enough to earn her the win in the final, and she set a new Hong Kong with a time of 53.83 seconds at the 4x100-metre freestyle relay on Sunday.
“I definitely feel more confident because I know that I can compete with the top swimmers in the world,” said Haughey, who is a student at the University of Michigan. She explained that her intensive training in the US helped her make the jump from being a great swimmer, to one of the world’s best.
“We do a lot of different types of training in the US apart from swimming, such as weightlifting, pilates, spinning, and running,” Haughey said. “In Hong Kong I was training with swimmers younger than me, but in the US I’m training with people around my age. The atmosphere is also different; people always cheer for us during practices and competitions, which motivates me to get through difficult training sessions.”
Haughey’s coaches advised her not to participate in the university games as they came so soon after the worlds, but she couldn’t turn down the chance to represent her school and Hong Kong, and also race in a major meet with her older sister Aisling, a breast-stroke swimmer, whom she hadn’t seen in over a year.
Haughey now has her sights on the 200m gold medal for which, after her performance at the worlds, she is heavily favoured to win.