MONTE CARLO, June 1. A week ago McLaren-Mercedes Formula 1 hotshot David Coulthard scored a huge upset when he defeated Ferrari's double-defending world Formula 1 champ Michael Schumacher to capture the Grand Prix here.
This evening, Holland's "King Pieter the Great" dealt Russian sprint Czar Alex Popov yet another 100 free defeat in the opening round of the Mare Nostrum Series.
Van den Hoogenband is Sydney Olympic 100-200 free champ and world record-holder in the former (47.84). He lost both races at the World Championships in Fukuoka last summer to America's Anthony Ervin (100) and Australia's Ian Thorpe (200), but showed his heels to a strong 100 free field tonight with a seasonal-best 49.56.
Runner-up was Sweden's Lars Frolander (49.95). A former NCAA champ/U.S. Open record-holder for Coach Eddie Sinnott's SMU Mustangs, Frolander was Sydney
100 fly gold medalist and also won at Fukuoka. Popov's 50.12 took the bronze.
Van den Hoogenband had not swum a 100 free in international competition this year until today, opting instead to concentrate on the 200-400 frees. At the Amsterdam Swim Cup in mid-March he went a seasonal pr 1:46.78, then a month later at the Dutch
Nationals in Amersfoort clocked 1:46.86 and a pr-NR 3:47.20 for the 400.
His time tonight ranks him seventh globally while in the 200 he ranks third behind Thorpe's 1:45.09 and Grant Hackett's 1:46.67 — a swim that equalled his pr. Both Aussies did those times in late March at Brisbane during their Nationals/Commonwealth Games Trials.
Hoogie's 3:47.2 400 also ranks him third globally behind the aforementioned Aussies.
Don't expect to see Hoogie in the 400 at the European Championships come Berlin in seven weeks, especially not when he'll have heats, semis and finals of the 50, 100 and 200 frees to partake of — plus three relays too.
Hoogie first rose to international prominence with wins in the European Championship 100-200 frees at Istanbul three summers ago. The following year, however, he lost his Euro titles to Czar Alex before splashing to that pair of Olympic golds two months later.
Popov has not won a major international title since his Euro Championship at Helsinki, and was a well-beaten third in the 50 free at the World Short Course
Championships in Moscow two months ago.
Has the Russian Rocket "lost it"? Popov is 31 this year — but then so is France's Franck Esposito — and all he's done lately is set a European record in the 200 fly (1:54.62) at the French Nationals/EC Trials in Chalon during late April. Esposito's time is a mere
.04 off American Michael Phelps' world-recored 1:54.58 from Fukuoka.
As that noted philospher Satchel Page once observed, "Age is simply a question of mind over matter: if you don't mind it don't matter."
Popov came back strong in the quarter finals of the 50 free, topping the charts with his 22.48. Italy's Lorenzo Vismara (22.77) was second. In the other quarter-final, Poland's Bart Kizierowski, a former University of California NCAA champ, won in 22.68 with Algeria's Salim Iles next (23.34).
The semis will pit all four against each other with the next round determining the champ. This format is in effect for all the stroke 50s.
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Martina Swims World-Leading 100m Fly
The opeing day of the Mare Nostrum Series, which also includes meets in Rome, Canet and Barcelona, saw several outstanding swims. The one world-leading
time was a 58.48 100 fly by former SMU NCAA champ (and still U.S. Open record-holder in the 200 yard free) Martina Moravcova, who represents her native Slovakia.
The Divine Ms. Double M's pr/NR is 57.97. That effort won her the silver at Sydney behind The Netherlands' Inge DeBruijn's world-record 56.61. Moravcova's time at the Olympics ranks her No. 2 on the all-time European list, fifth on the all-time world performers' list (17th-performance).
Lindsay and Lenny win
Two Americans, both products of Coach Mark Schubert's USC Trojan teams and both former NCAA champions, scored golds: Lindsay Benko in the 200 free (1:59.48) and Lenny Krayzelburg, who won the 100 back in 55.75.
Benko's time ties her for third-fastest globally this year. Krayzelburg's winning swim ranks him sixth in the world, .01 behind Thorpe's 55.74. Super K is world record-holder in the 50-100 backs and until March held the 200 back too (1:55.87). However, that record is now 1:55.15 and belongs to prospective University of Texas freshman Aaron Peirsol, who swam
it at the U.S. Nationals in Minneapolis last March.
Krayzelburg is making his competitive debut since undergoing shoulder surgery last last autumn (except for oine 100 meter short course swim). His most recent major competition before was the Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv last July. The former Trojan All-America has said his main goal for this summer is to "get back into shape" and then start the push for Athens.
Benko was a part of the U.S. gold medal-winning 800 free relay at Sydney and won the 200 free at Moscow.
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Russia's Dmitri Kormonikov showed he'll be in the hunt for Berlin gold in the 200 breast with his 2:12.35 win. His time ranks third globally and is just off his pr 2:12.28 from the '99 Euro Jr. Championships in Moscow. It's also .14 off the Russian record of 2:12.21 by Andrey Korneev from the Euro Championship Trials seven years ago.
In the women's 100 breast, Swedish World Short Course champ Emma Igelstroms won the gold (1:09.54) with Americans Amanda Beard (1:09.83) and Kristy Kowal (1:10.44) taking the silver and bronze.
The men's 200 fly saw Ukraine's Denis Sylantiev, fresh from wins at Israel's Haifa Sprint Cup last weekend, win in 1:56.99, third in '02. His pr-NR is 1:55.76
that won him the silver at Sydney.
Russia's Stanislava Komarova went a 2:12.10 pr-NR to win the women's 200 back at the expense of Romania's Olympic 100 back gold medalist Diana Mocanu
(2:13.61). Australia's Clementine Stoney, yearly list-leader with her 2:11.59 from Brisbane, was third (2:14.46).
Romania's Cezar Badita, coming back from a two-year drug suspension imposed prior to Sydney, won the 200 IM (2:03.70). (NOTE: Badita's suspension was suspended on a technicality by the Romanian federation and, despite his doping conviction, he was allowed to swim in Sydney, where he fianlerd in the 400 IM.)
In the quarters of the stroke races, a very interesting matchup looms in the women's 50 breast where Igelstrom, world 50-100 champ at Moscow, will be up against Great Britain's Zoe Baker.
Baker is Euro long course 50 breast record-holder with her 31.23 from Fukuoka and qualified first here in 31.61 to the Swede's 32.56.
In the men's 50 breast, the Czech Republic's Daniel Malek won one quarter-final in 28.92. The other went to Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor, World Champion and Euro record-holder (27.52). He swam 28.46.
Aussies led the way in the women's 50 free, with 16-year-old Alice Mills making her international debut a successful win via a 25.98-26.03 edging of Holland's Wilma van Rijn in one quarter. The other saw compatriot Jodie Henry win in 25.77.
Popov (22.48) and Kizierowski (22.68) were quarters' winners in the men's 50 free. Germany's Sandra Volker (29.40) and Spain's Nina Zhivanevskaya (29.17) were fastest in the 50 back; on the men's side former Texas star Neil Walker, American/NCAA record-holder in the 100 yard back and Krayzelburg were 1-2 in their heat (26.74, 26.83). The other men's heat was won by Croatia's Ante Maskovic (26.56) with teammate Gordan Kozulj (26.81) next.
A former Cal All-America, Kozulj is defending Euro 200 back champ with his NR 1:58.62 from Helsinki and formerly held the world short course record at 200 meters.
Cal and Croatia have become a good fit. First Kozulj made a name for himself at Berkeley; now sprinter Duje Draganja is hopeful of challenging Hoogie for the continent's "Fastest Man" title in the 50-100 frees at
Croatia is a former part of Yugoslavia and that country's Michael Cavic, a hotshot high schooler from Southern California (Tustin) who'll be a freshman
at Cal this fall, has designs of his own on Hoogie's and Popov's supremacy. He'll be swimming the sprints plus the 50-100 flys at Berlin.