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World Sport

Records tumble at last day in pool


SPECIAL REPORT
• Olympics 2004: Special report 

ATHENS, Greece -- Dutch star Inge de Bruijn and Grant Hackett of Australia defended their respective 50m and 1500m freestyle titles on the final day in the pool at the Athens Games

Meanwhile the U.S. and Australia set new world records by winning the 4x100m men's and women's medley respectively.

The U.S. victory gave Michael Phelps his record equaling eighth medal of the Athens Olympics without getting into the pool.

He earned a gold for swimming in the preliminaries, giving him six golds and two bronzes in the eight-day swimming competition.

In the women's 50 Malia Metella of France finished second in 24.89 while Australia's Libby Lenton finished third in 24.91 to add a bronze to the relay gold she won on the opening night of competition.

De Bruijn was one of the stars of the last Olympics, winning three gold medals, but had managed just a silver and two bronzes in Athens before getting gold in the 50 sprint.

"It's an amazing feeling," said the Dutch flyer. "A gold on the last day of the program, what a climax. It's unbelievable how it feels, I can't find the words to express it."

She is the first woman to retain the Olympic 50 freestyle title, which was introduced in 1988.

Hackett Gold

By winning the 1500 meters, Hackett became just the fourth man to win the race twice at the Olympics.

Hackett, unbeaten in the event for seven years, led all the way to win gold in 14 minutes 43.40 seconds, breaking the Olympic record set by his fellow Australian Kieren Perkins at Barcelona in 1992.

But the Australian, who went into the Olympics as unbackable favorite, was pushed all the way by American Larsen Jensen and Briton David Davies.

After trailing by more than three seconds with a kilometer still to go, Jensen gradually clawed his way back and was just 0.16 seconds behind at the bell lap.

But the American, promised $1 million if he could beat Hackett and break his world record of 14:34.56, was unable to respond when Hackett started to sprint the last 100 and the Australian pulled away to win by three meters.

Jensen held on for the silver in 14:45.29, the third fastest time ever, with the bronze going to Davies in a European record time of 14:45.95.

Hackett also won the 1500 gold in Sydney and joins American Mike Burton (1968, 1972), Russia's Vladimir Salnikov (1980, 1988) and fellow Australian Kieren Perkins (1992, 1996) as the only men to win the event twice.

Hackett had qualified third fastest in Friday's heats but stamped his authority on the final from the start, setting off at a cracking pace.

He completed his first 100 meters in 55.14 seconds, faster than the time John Devitt swam to win the 100 meters sprint at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

He reached the 200 mark in a faster time than Michael Wenden swam to win the 200 meters final at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics.

With 1300 meters still to go, Hackett kept up the pace, passing through 400 in 3:53.46, better than Brad Cooper's winning time for the eight-lap final in 1972.

His early speed inevitably took its toll but he was still able to churn through his last 100 in 56.08, quicker than Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller's time for his back-to-back 100 meters Olympic wins in the 1920s.

Another gold for Australia

Petria Thomas overtook Jenny Thompson on the third leg of the Olympic women's 4x100 meter medley relay Saturday night, helping Australia to a world record and upset of the United States.

Giaan Rooney, Leisel Jones, Thomas and Jodie Henry finished in a world mark of 3 minutes, 57.32 seconds, breaking the record of 3:58.30 set by the United States at the Sydney Games.

Americans Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Beard, Thompson and Kara Lynn Joyce settled for silver in 3:59.12. Germany took bronze in 4:00.72.

Thompson became the most decorated American athlete in the Olympics with her record 12th career medal, including 10 from relays. She broke a tie with swimmers Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi and shooter Carl Osburn.

The United States had won the medley relay for three consecutive Olympics, and eight of the previous 11 times in the games.

Thompson, a four-time Olympian at age 31, anchored victories in 1992 and 2000.

Coughlin and Beard had the Americans on world-record pace when Thompson dove in for the butterfly leg. She was quickly overtaken by Thomas and then Henry brought the Aussies home in record time. Joyce never made a dent in Australia's lead on the freestyle anchor leg.

Thompson and Joyce had swum the 50 freestyle final 40 minutes earlier, while the Australians were rested.

US gold in relay

The United States set a world record to win the men's 4x100 meters medley relay at the Athens Olympics on Saturday and allow Michael Phelps to match Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin's 1980 record for the most medals at one Games.

Phelps did not swim in the final after giving up his spot to Ian Crocker but still gets a medal because he swum in the heats, giving him a total of eight for the week, including six golds.

Crocker swam the butterfly leg instead of Phelps and teamed up with backstroker Aaron Peirsol, who broke Lenny Krayzelburg's 100 backstroke world record with a time of 53.45 on the first leg.

Breaststroker Brendan Hansen and the freestyle anchorman Jason Lezak also helped the squad to finish first in three minutes 30.68 seconds, well inside the previous world record of 3:33.73 the U.S. set at the Sydney Games.

Germany finished second in 3:33.62 to get the silver while the bronze went to Japan in 3:35.22.


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