By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 29. WHAT a week for Australia’s Leisel Jones. When the World Championships started, Jones was the athlete who couldn’t deliver on the big stage. Now, that tag is no longer applicable. Ahead of pace from the start, Jones shattered the world record in the 200-meter breaststroke, finishing with an eye-popping time of 2:21.72. The former mark was 2:22.44, set by Amanda Beard at last summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials. Beard skipped this event.
Before this week, Jones had never won gold at the Olympics or World Championships, the two biggest events in the sport. But, she won the 100 breast earlier in the competition and used the 200 breast to make her experience all the more richer. Jones split 1:08.35 at the 100-meter mark and showed an expression of disbelief when she saw her time on the scoreboard.
Germany’s Anne Poleska took the silver medal in 2:25.84, four-plus seconds behind Jones’ winning time. Austria’s Mirna Jukic was the winner of the bronze medal, behind a swim of 2:27.11. Jukic’s mark was just enough to hold off Japan’s Megumi Taneda (2:27.65). The fifth-place spot went to Poland’s Katarzyna Dulian (2:27.85).
The United States’ Tara Kirk and Kristen Caverly tied for sixth place in 2:28.60. Kirk, who won bronze in the 100 breast, was expected to medal in this event as well, but couldn’t maintain the fast pace she set during the opening 100 meters. South Africa’s Suzaan Van Biljon was the eighth-place finisher in a time of 2:29.44.