Hong Kong swimmer Siobhan Haughey has broken the world record for the women’s 200 metre freestyle.

The 24-year-old Olympic hero came in at 1 minute and 50.31 seconds to bag gold at the Fina World Swimming Championships on Thursday. She beat Canada’s Rebecca Smith and Paige Madden from the US in the short course contest.

Haughey was presented with US$50,000 (HK$390,022) prize money at the contest in Abu Dhabi.

Previously, the world record was held by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström at 1 minute 50.43 seconds.

Siobhan Haughey. Photo: iCable screenshot.

“This is a huge moment for me and my country,” she said, according to journalist Nick Hope. “I’m Hong Kong’s first-ever world champion & world record holder. I hope this is just the start for me and other swimmers in my country.”

Secretary for Home Affairs Caspar Tsui congratulated Haughey in a statement on Thursday night: “After winning two silver medals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Siobhan Bernadette Haughey has performed brilliantly again in the international competition. She is the first Hong Kong athlete who broke the world record in a swimming event. We are proud of her. Her victory has been very encouraging to Hong Kong athletes.”

Olympic hero

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Haughey attended school in the city until she went to the US to attend the University of Michigan.

The half-Irish athlete holds multiple Hong Kong and Asia swimming records. Her first Olympics was the 2016 Rio de Janeiro summer games.

Siobhan Haughey wins silver at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China.

She brought two silver medals home from this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said at the time that Haughey brought glory to Hong Kong: “Haughey has fully demonstrated great skill and perseverance to stay ahead of competitors, achieving an excellent result for Hong Kong.”

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.