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SHANGHAI, China, July 24. IT was expected to be déjà vu from the epic men's 400 freestyle relay at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with France and the United States duking it out for supremacy. Australia, however, had something definitive to say about that with a stunning victory at the FINA World Long Course Championships.
The Australian foursome led from the start and never looked back as James Magnussen (47.49), Matt Targett (47.87), Matt Abood (47.92) and Eamon Sullivan (47.72) delivered a textile-best time of 3:11.00. That swim topped the previous textile best of 3:11.74 clocked by the U.S. at the 2010 Pan Pacific Championships. Magnussen's splendid 100 free leadoff tracked down another textile best, besting the 47.84 clocked by Pieter van den Hoogenband at the 2000 Sydney Olympics
France finally trumped the United States, but had no clue to watch out for the Aussies. Alain Bernard (48.75), Jeremy Stravius (47.78), William Meynard (47.39) and Fabien Gilot (47.22) took silver with a 3:11.14, while the U.S. contingent of Michael Phelps (48.08), Garrett Weber-Gale (48.33), Jason Lezak (48.15) and Nathan Adrian (47.40) rounded out the podium with a bronze-winning 3:11.96. The loss is the first for the U.S. in the event since Russia won in 2003.
Italy (3:12.39), Russia (3:12.99), South Africa (3:13.38), Germany (3:15.01) and Great Britain (3:15.03) comprised the rest of the championship heat.