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LONDON, England, August 1. IN one of the closest finishes in Olympic history, USA's Nathan Adrian touched out Australia's James Magnussen at the wall in the men's 100-meter freestyle at the 2012 London Olympics.
Adrian turned third, and powered home with a 47.52 for the win, edging Magnussen by the slimmest of margins as Magnussen touched in 47.53. Adrian's effort bested the American textile best of 47.89 he set as a relay leadoff on the men's 400 freestyle relay, and gave the U.S. its first winner in the event since Matt Biondi topped the podium in 1988. The U.S. is also undefeated in the event when held in London. Charles Daniels (1:05.2 in 1908) and Wally Ris (57.3 in 1948) are the previous London winners for Team USA.
“It feels good,” Adrian said then looks up at the TV screen, “Oh, Reb (Rebecca Soni) has just broken a world record. Now I'm overshadowed by Reb setting a world record! I don't like to put pressure on myself. You can probably tell on my face 'oh, sweet, I won the heat' and then it took a minute 'oh, wait, it's the Olympics'. I kinda touched well and 'oh, sweet, I've won' then there's 10 to 15 seconds. Holy crap, this is the Olympics. I've been watching this since I was a kid.”
The .01 second triumph is one of the closest swims in the history of the event. There have been two recorded ties. Clarke Scholes of the U.S. won by a judges decision over Japan's Hiroshi Suzuki in 1952 as both clocked 57.4s. Meanwhile, John Devitt and Lance Larson of the U.S. tied with 55.2s in 1960 with judges awarding the decision to Devitt.
The win gave Adrian his first individual Olympic medal of any kind as he added it to his collection of a gold from the 2008 400 free relay and silver from the 2012 400 freestyle relay.
Magnussen, a heavy favorite in the event after popping the overall textile best with a 47.10 in March of this year, gave Australia its second straight silver in the event. Eamon Sullivan took silver behind France's Alain Bernard at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
“Having such a successful young career I just felt pretty much bullet proof coming into this Olympics and it is very humbling,” Magnussen said. “So I have a lot more respect to guys like Michael Phelps who can come to the Olympics and back up under that pressure. It is a bit of a reality check. As my coach said during the week it is a pretty tough time to learn you are human. It hurts. I did my best tonight and it wasn't quite good enough. It's been a tough Olympics. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger so hopefully I can come out of this a better swimmer but most of all a better person.”
Canada's Brent Hayden picked up bronze in 47.80, which is his country's first medal in the event's history, and Hayden's first Olympic medal. He tied for the world title in the event at the 2007 World Championships, and took second at the 2011 World Championships. He now has a 100 free medal of every color in international competition.
“You know in Beijing what could have been the best day of my life turned out to be the worst day of my life so I've had a great day today,” Hayden said. “My legs just feel so heavy that I think I'm just going to take a while to think about what I just did. I just never knew that I would get the (medal) so thank you so much. Physically I wasn't feeling that bad but emotionally and spiritually I just had to show what I was capable of.”
France's Yannick Agnel, who dominated the anchor leg of the men's 400-meter freestyle to solidify his country's win, could not replicate that swim with a fourth-place 47.84. The Netherlands' Sebastiaan Verschuren took fifth in 47.88, while defending bronze medalist Cesar Cielo of Brazil wound up sixth in 47.92. Cuba's Hanser Garcia (48.04) and Russia's Nikita Lobintsev (48.44) earned seventh and eighth.
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