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LONDON, England, August 3. THE two-time defending champions Australia put together a strong morning relay to lead the way into finals of the women's 400-meter medley relay at the 2012 London Olympics.
The foursome of Emily Seebohm (58.57), Leisel Jones (1:05.96), Alicia Coutts (57.45) and Brittany Elmslie (53.44) cruised to the top time of the morning with a 3:55.42. Australia has won the past two iterations of the event in 2004 and 2008, after finishing runner-up to the U.S. in 1996 and 2000. Australia is vying to join a pair of U.S. runs with its third straight victory. Team USA won in 1992, 1996, 2000 for a threepeat, while also taking the first four golds in the event from 1960-72.
“Australia has a great history in relays and we always have so much fun,” Seebohm said. “I am looking forward to the final tomorrow.”
Japan's Aya Terakawa (59.19), Satomi Suzuki (1:07.15), Yuka Kato (57.73) and Haruka Ueda (53.80) qualified second in 3:57.87. Japan has missed the podium for the past two Olympiads after earning its only medal with a bronze in 2000.
Denmark's Rie Nielsen (1:00.27), Rikke Pedersen (1:07.15), Jeanette Ottesen Gray (56.74) and Pernille Blume (54.19) qualified third in 3:58.35, while Team USA's Rachel Bootsma (59.70), Breeja Larson (1:06.66), Claire Donahue (58.05) and Jessica Hardy (54.47) posted a 3:58.88 for fourth.
“I'm very happy with that race for all of us, I think that was a good one,” Donahue said. “To come back tonight and be able to final, so the girls could swim again. I think for each of us that was the main goal, but individually for each of us we are all racers. For me that was very exciting to be part of a USA relay at the Olympics. Oh my gosh, I will be jumping up and down if [a gold medal] happens, for minutes. First to be a part of this relay in the morning was amazing and then to be able to have a shot to get a gold medal is insane to me. Coming in to this meet I was just happy to be here and happy to experience everything. But coming out of it being able to possibly medal is just insane, it's incredible.”
The Netherlands (3:59.19), Great Britain (3:59.37), China (3:59.38) and Russia (3:59.57) rounded out the championship heat. Germany, the defending bronze medalist, wound up ninth in 3:59.95.
“I am happy. There is something to improve on for the finals,” Great Britain's Gemma Spofforth said. “The crowd is just insane. As soon as we made that final, they just went crazy. It definitely spurred me on. We need a fast race. A medal is definitely what we want to get but there are lots of fast teams out there.”
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