By Josh Jeffrey
DAEGU, South Korea, August 26. THE fastest-ever edition of the World University Games continued this evening with magnificent performances and some big wins by Chinese and British swimmers.
Rebecca Cooke of Great Britain, who won the 800m freestyle in Universiade record time earlier this week, took the top spot again in the 400m freestyle this evening.
This time, Cooke pulled from behind to win as China's Chen Hua, silver in the 800, was out nearly a second faster than Cooke by 200 meters. Over the last 100, Chen saw that lead diminish to mere hundredths before being reeled in during the final strokes. Cooke touched first at 4:11.23, ahead of Chen for silver (4:11.94), while Magda Dyskewicz of the USA (4:12.52) picked up bronze.
Great Britain made it two for two when James Gibson, to the surprise of no one, took the 100m breaststroke. Though Brenton Rickard of Australia set the Universiade record in preliminaries with a time of 1:01.52, it was apparent that Gibson was saving his best for the final. Out in 28.28, he sizzled to a gold medal in 1:00.71, smashing the newly-minted Universiade record set by Rickard. British teammate Chris Cook took silver (1:01.28) also under the previous mark, while Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor (1:01.69) took bronze.
The USA men's team matched last night's gold by Demerae Christianson when Dan Westcott claimed a win in the men's 50m backstroke today. In a thriller of a finish, Westcott edged China's Ouyang Kunpeng, winner and Universiade record-holder in the 200m back, by just two hundredths of a second.
Westcott touched at 25.80 to Ouyang's 25.82. Just six hundredths behind Ouyang was Vyacheslav Shyrshov of Ukraine, picking up his team's second bronze of the evening with a time of 25.88.
China's deadly duo of Qi Hui and Luo Xuejuan destroyed the competition in the women's 200m breaststroke final. After the first 50, it was clear that no one else could challenge. Instead, Luo built up a half-second lead on Qi at the 100, taking the race out in a very fast 1:09.70, but after the turn at the 150, Qi used her devastating finishing speed to leave a faltering Luo behind.
At the wall, Qi touched in a new Universiade record of 2:26.25, with teammate Luo second at 2:26.99, just a hundredth over the previous mark. More than four seconds in arrears, Japan's Fumiko Kawanabe touched at 2:31.06 for bronze.
Russia's Andrei Kaoralov was the surprise winner of the men's 100 freestyle, and it looked as though he would even break Matt Biondi's long-standing Universiade mark of 49.14. Kaoralov tired in the last few meters to miss the record, but nonetheless won in 49.36 to silver medalist Chris Cozens of Great Britain's time of 49.94. Ukraine won its third bronze of the session with Yuriy Yegoshi touching in 50.02.
The USA's Joe Bruckart led qualifiers during preliminaries of the men's 200m individual medley, and for the first 100 of the final he led the race. Entering the breaststroke leg, Bruckart was ahead by a half second over Japan's Takahiro Mori. But Mori uncorked a 34.55 breaststroke split, more than a second faster than Bruckart, to surge into the lead. His final split of 28.90 to Bruckart's 29.34 sealed the race.
Mori touched in a scorching 2:00.59, obliterating the long-standing Universiade mark of 2:02.29 set by 1984 Olympic winner Alex Baumann. Bruckart took second, also well under the former record with a time of 2:01.57, while Australia's Adam Lucas notched his team's first medal of the session with a 2:03.06 for bronze.
China's women's 800m freestyle relay asserted their dominance this evening with a three second lead on the field. Xu Yanwei got things started early as her 2:01.03 opening leg was 1.5 seconds ahead of Russia, and 2+ seconds ahead of the United States.
China's next two swimmers, breaststroker Qi Hui, and middle-distance ace Chen Hua both clocked 2:02-low to extend the lead set by Xu. Unless a US or Russian swimmer could anchor in 1:57, China would win handily. As it turns out, the only anchor faster than China's Jiaying Pang (2:00.41), was France's Solenne Figues (2:00.28), and thus, China was golden by three body lengths. Their time of 8:05.86 was within a second of the Universiade record.
The USA finished for silver with 8:08.84, while Russia had a dogfight with France for bronze. In the end, Russia prevailed, 8:13.99 to 8:14.14.
Finals continue Thursday in Daegu after a one day break in competition.
World University Games
Daegu, South Korea
August 24-30, 2003
50 meter pool
Day Three: August 26, 2003