By John Lohn
BEIJING, China, August 16. AFTER three silver-medal performances, Kirsty Coventry was ready for a color change. In the final of the 200 backstroke, the Zimbabwe standout got her wish. Leading wire-to-wire, Coventry – based in the United States with Kim Brackin in Texas – Coventry shattered the world record while repeating her Olympic crown.
Coventry took the race out in 29.62 and touched at the 100-meter mark in a scorching pace of 1:00.83. She was 1:32.69 at the 150-meter mark and finished in 2:05.24 to crush the world record of 2:06.09, set by Margaret Hoelzer at the United States Trials last month. Coventry leaves these Games with gold in the 200 back and silver in the 100 back and both medley disciplines.
Hoelzer, the bronze medalist in the 100 backstroke, grabbed the silver medal while touching the wall in 2:06.23, the second-fastest effort of her career. Hoelzer was in second at every checkpoint and comfortably walked away with second place, ahead of Japan's Reiko Nakamura, who was timed in 2:07.13.
"It's fantastic. I'm very pleased," Hoelzer said. "(At the same time), obviously I'm a little disappointed. Everybody goes into the race wanting to win. But it's an improvement on my bronze in the 100. So, overall I'm very happy."
Russian Anastasia Zueva, also a finalist in the 100 back, was the fourth-place finisher in 2:07.88, followed by American teenager Elizabeth Beisel (2:08.23). Great Britain's Elizabeth Simmonds was sixth in 2:08.51 and Aussies Megean Nay (2:08.84) and Belinda Hocking (2:10.12) rounded out the field.