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LONDON, England, August 1. HUNGARY's Daniel Gyurta blasted the field with a stunning world record to win the men's 200-meter breaststroke at the 2012 London Olympics.
Gyurta, who placed second in the 2004 Olympics behind Kitajima before missing the podium in 2008, threw down a remarkable time of 2:07.28 after turning second at the 100 meter mark with a 1:01.56. That performance broke the 2009 world record of Christian Sprenger, where he clocked a 2:07.31 in semifinals of the World Championships in Rome. The win gave Gyurta his first Olympic gold, and his second Olympic medal overall. He also became just the third Hungarian to win the event. Jozsef Szabo (1988) and Norbert Rozsa (1996) are the previous winners. Additionally, Kitajima's Olympic record of 2:07.64 from Beijing fell as well.
“Of course I'm proud of the Olympic title,” Gyurta said. “To break the world record is what makes me proudest. I managed to prove for everyone and for myself that after those devastating two years after the 2004 Olympic Games I could bounce back and do what I dreamed of since my childhood. The race didn't go particularly as I planned, but my performance was still enough to win. I saw the British guy (Michael Jamieson) coming pretty fast in the finish but I could prevail.”
Great Britain's Michael Jamieson moved to fourth all time in the event with a 2:07.43, much to the pleasure of the partisan crowd. After posting a 2:08.20 in qualifying, Jamieson had more in the tank, winning his first Olympic medal. His previous top international finish was fifth in the 200 breast at the 2011 Worlds.
“It was so much easier to swim tonight with a bit of confidence back,” Jamieson said. “I've received so many messages of support and I was desperate to get on the podium to thank everyone for their support.”
Japan's Ryo Tateishi picked off his compatriot Kitajima for the final podium spot, 2:08.29 to 2:08.35, for his first Olympic medal. That swim was just off his lifetime best of 2:08.17 set in Tokyo earlier this year.
“I am very happy, really happy. Of course I aimed to win a medal,” Tateishi said. “With my time (personal best), I think everyone expected me to win gold but I gave it my all. First of all, I would like to present the medal to my parents. Then I would like to put the medal around my coach's neck and take a picture because he had his birthday on day one of the competition.”
Kitajima, meanwhile, could not become the first man to win three straight events in Olympic history. He finishes this meet having been the only person to sweep the breaststroke events in two Olympics (2004, 2008), but could not follow through with a threepeat in either event. Dawn Fraser and Krisztina Egerszegi are the only swimmers to have done so on the women's side. The next chance at a threepeat is now Michael Phelps in the 200 IM.
“I didn't have any problems, I just tried to swim 200m as I always do. I have no regrets,” Kitajima said. “I have done good training and I really wanted to enjoy the Olympics. Since I made the Japanese team for the Olympic Games, I tried to enjoy swimming despite the expectation to win the gold medal.”
USA's Scott Weltz (2:09.02), USA's Clark Burckle (2:09.25), Australia's Brenton Rickard (2:09.28) and Great Britain's Andrew Willis (2:09.44) rounded out the championship heat.
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