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Olympics - Day 6 Finals -- September 21, 2000 Wilkins (bottom) in a battle in the IM.

By Phillip Whitten & Michael Collins

SYDNEY, Sept. 21. No world records were set on the sixth night of competition at the Sydney Olympic Games, but the US dominated competition at the Aquatic Centre. The Americans took home 8 out of a possible 12 medals on the night - 1 gold, 3 silver, 4 bronze. Every American swimming in a final medaled! They also set two American records and one Olympic record. In contrast, the Aussies could manage only a single bronze medal. Is Gary Hall Jr.'s prediction coming true?


Here is the even-by-event coverage:

Events:

Men's 50 Free - Semi-Finals

Top 8 advance to Finals:

1. Hall, Jr USA 22.07
2. v.d.Hoogenband NED 22.11
3. Ervin USA 22.13
4. Popov RUS 22.17
5. Vismara ITA 22.30
6. Foster GBR 22.32
7. Kizierowski POL 22.35
8. Volynets UKR 22.36

After the semis, the big guns are all still there. The USA's Gary Hall Jr. moved up to top seed (22.07) with teammate Anthony Ervin in third (22.13). Said Hall: "I feel great. It's a good position to be in going into the final. I'm in the middle lane, so I should have a good view of my competitors...not that I'll be looking at them." Ervin commented: "It's going to be a battle (in tomorrow's final), with more fast stuff to be seen. My goal is to win but I'd take a medal."

Holland's Pieter van den Hoogenband, winner of both the 100 and 200 free, is second (22.11) and Alex Popov is fourth (22.17). Hoogie predicted: "It will take 22 (seconds) to win." Whoever wins can expect a tight race: A total of one tenth of a second is all that separates the top four finalists.

Bart Kizierowski of Poland, who swam the fastest time in prelims, 22.05, slipped a bit to seventh, but is still in the final. No Aussies made it. Chris Fydler was tenth.


Women's 200 Breast Final

Gold - Kovacs HUN 2:24.35
Silver - Kowal USA 2:24.56 American record
Bronze - Beard USA 2:25.35

4. Qi CHN 2:25.36
5. Bakaldina RUS 2:25.47
6. Poewe RSA 2:25.72
7. Tanaka JPN 2:26.98
8. Luo CHN 2:27.33

Hungary's Agnes Kovacs came charging back from fifth place at the 100 meter mark (1:10.64) and third at the 150 to pass America's Kristy Kowal in the final few meters and win the women's 200 meter breaststroke in 2:24.35, just off the Olympic record of 2:24.03 she set in semis. Kowal, who led until 175 meters, posted an American record 2:24.56.

Amanda Beard, the second US swimmer and the 1996 silver medalist, had a great race to move up from eighth after semis into the bronze medal spot. Her 2:25.35 was a lifetime best, almost half a second faster than her silver medal performance in Atlanta.


Men's 200 Back Final

Gold - Krayzelburg USA 1:56.76 Olympic Record
Silver - Peirsol USA 1:57.35
Bronze - Welsh AUS 1:57.59 National Record

4. Arnarson ISL 1:59.00
5. Merisi ITA 1:59.01
6. Florea ROM 1:59.05
7. Romero BRA 1:59.27
8. Kozulj CRO 1:59.38

America's Lenny Krayzelburg and his 17 year-old teammate, Aaron Peirsol, combined to produce the third 1-2 USA sweep. Lenny set a new Olympic record to win the event, lowering the mark he first set in prelims and then lowered in the semifinals.
"I'm really excited but really exhausted," said the double Olympic champion. "It's a very emotional experience." After being presented with his gold medal, Lenny climbed into the stands to kiss his father, mother and sister, to whom he presented a bouquet of flowers. "They're part of the reason I'm here today," he explained a few minutes later.

Peirsol, who prides himself on his wild hair, said: "It's great, and such a relief. I got the silver, but I still get to get up there for the US national anthem. Peirsol sees himself as the future of the 200 back: "I think I'm getting to a point where I'm becoming more of a threat to (Lenny) and I think he knows that."

Aussie Matt Welsh kept the pressure on the whole way, finishing a close third and setting a national and Commonwealth record. "It's pretty amazing. Coming out of the last turn, I knew exactly where everyone was and I knew it would come down to Aaron (Peirsol) and me touching. I am rapped for a medal. I expected to go well, but not that well. To actually achieve it is unbelievable."


Women's 200 Backstroke - Semi-Finals

Top 8 advance to Finals:

1. Mocanu ROM 2:09.64
2. Hagiwara JPN 2:11.02
3. Maracineanu FRA 2:11.93
3. Zhivanevskaya ESP 2:11.93
5. Nakao JPN 2:12.49
6. Buschschulte GER 2:12.64
7. Adkins USA 2:12.97
8. Stefanyshyn CAN 2:13.39
---
10. Benko USA 2:13.73

Romania's Diana Mocanu, 16, winner of the women's 100 meter backstroke earlier at the Games, continues to control this event as well by recording the fastest time in prelims and, now, going into the finals seeded first by more than a second. "I was too relaxed before my swim," she said, "but I do enjoy the atmosphere of the semifinals and I feel confident going into the final."

Japan's Tomoko Hagiwara moved up to second qualifier, and France's Roxanna Maracineanu, the 1998 world champion, and Spain's Zhivanevskaya are tied for the third seed position. Hagiwara, who had the fastest time in both semis through the first 100 meters (1:04.24), commented: "The atmosphere felt good tonight. I feel I swam very well tonight. I want to do my best to win the final."

American Amanda Adkins qualified through to the final in seventh, while Lindsay Benko faded on the final lap and failed to make it.


Men's 100 Butterfly - Semi-Finals

Top 8 advance to Finals:
1. Huegill AUS 51.96 Olympic Record
2. Klim AUS 52.63
3. Crocker USA 52.82
4. Froelander SWE 52.84
5. Mintenko CAN 53.00
6. Yamamoto JPN 53.01
7. Rupprath GER 53.18
8. Poliakov RUS 53.32
----
Hannan USA 53.59

Aussie Geoff Huegill sent the crowd crazy, flying through the first 50 of the 100 meter fly under world record pace (24.12) as he won the first heat in 51.96 seconds, making him the second fastest man in history and the second man to break 52 seconds. It was also an Olympic record. Asked why he swam so fast in his semifinal, the Aussie replied, "The way I look at it, I've got nothing to lose and everything to gain."

Huegill's teammate, Michael Klim, who holds the world record (51.81,) failed to match the time on his way to winning the second heat, but still qualified through to the finals in second place with a 52.63. American teenager, Ian Crocker moved up into the third spot by going out easier than he did in the morning prelims and coming home very strongly to get second in the heat behind Klim in 52.82. "I think I just needed to get that first race out of my system," he commented. "I learned you have to swim your own race no matter who you swim against.

Sweden's Lars Froelander, the third fastest swimmer all-time, was right behind Crocker in 52.84. American Tommy Hannan failed to make the final, clocking 53.59 for 14th place.


Women's 100 Free Final

Gold - De Bruijn NED 53.83
Silver - Alshammar SWE 54.33
Bronze - Torres USA 54.43
Bronze - Thompson USA 54.43

5. Moravcova SVK 54.72
6. Muller RSA 55.19 National Record
7. Minamoto JPN 55.53
8. Van Rijn NED 55.58


Holland's Inge De Bruijn proved she is the queen of the 100 meter freestyle, splitting just a few hundredths of a second ahead of rivals Therese Alshammar of Sweden and Dara Torres of the USA at the 50, then powering home to easily outdistance her rivals in a star-studded field. De Bruijn's 53.83 is the third fastest time in history. She also owns the two faster times, including the world record 53.77 she set yesterday in the semis. Earlier in these Games, De Bruijn also won gold in the 100 fly, setting a world record.

Alshammar, who struggled in the prelims and qualified seventh for the finals, almost stole the race from lane one. A slow turn and poor finish doomed her bid to dethrone Inky, but she had enough to win the silver: Sweden's first medal of these Games.

In an ironic development, US teammates and rivals, Dara Torres and Jenny Thompson, tied for the bronze at 54.43 Slovakia's
Martina Moravcova, who earned silver in the 100 fly and 200 free, was fifth in 54.72.


Men's 200 IM Finals

Gold - Rosolino ITA 1:58.98 Olympic Record
Silver - Dolan USA 1:59.77 American Record
Bronze - Wilkens USA 2:00.87

4. Czene HUN 2:01.16
5. Wouda NED 2:01.48
6. Keller GER 2:02.02
7. Marchand FRA 2:02.23
8. Sievinen FIN 2:02.49

Can lightening strike twice? That was the question as the finalists in the men's 200 individual medley stood on the blocks. Over in lane one stood Hungary's Attila Czene, who won this event in a stunning upset at the 1996 Atlanta Games...from lane one. Alas, the answer was "no." Czene gave it his all, though, leading at the halfway mark before fading to fourth.

The man of destiny was Italy's Massi Rosolino, the world leader coming into Sydney, who already had won silver (400 free) and bronze (200 free) in these Games. Third at the 50, Rosolino turned in the fastest breaststroke split (33.52), beating such breaststroke specialists as Tom Wilkens and Marcel Wouda, to take over the lead at the final turn. Then he turned on the jets and split 28.10 to ice the gold medal. Rosolino's 1:58.98 was an Olympic record and makes him the second fastest man in history. Only Finland's Jani Sievinen has swum faster.

America's Tom Dolan set a new national record, becoming the first American to break two minutes (1:59.77), but it wasn't enough to win. Tom Wilkens, the other American, was a surprising third, having finally found a pretty good freestyle split.

World record-holder, Jani Sievinen of Finland ended up eighth.


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