By John Lohn
BEIJING, China, August 11. WHAT might be the first of three individual gold medals at the Beijing Games, Australian Libby Trickett showed the field her heels in the women's 100 butterfly. The top seed heading into the final, Trickett touched first at the 50-meter mark and maintained control down the stretch to prevail in 56.73.
While Trickett narrowly missed Inge de Bruijn's world mark of 56.61, she need not be overly concerned. Trickett still has the 50 free and 100 free remaining, events in which she already stands as the world-record holder. Trickett will be heavily favored to win the 100 distance and is primed for a 50 free showdown with American Dara Torres.
"It's more than I could have dreamed of," Trickett said. "More than anything. I'm relieved. Before the race, I felt like I was going to vomit. I was so nervous. Then, as I walked out, I felt this amazing sense of calm come over me. More than anything, I wanted to walk away with no regrets."
Continuing her rise on the international scene, American Christine Magnuson handed the U.S. a medal it was not particularly expecting heading into the meet. Magnuson covered her two laps in 57.10, just off her national standard of 57.08 from the semifinals. Impressively, Magnuson caught Aussie Jessicah Schipper on the last 50, a surprise development considering Schipper's strong finish as a 200 butterflyer.
Schipper, however, hung on for the bronze medal in comfortable fashion, her effort of 57.25 well ahead of the 57.84 by China's Zhou Yafei. Filling out the top eight were Singapore's Li Tao (57.99), Great Britain's Jemma Lowe (58.06), Gabriella Silva of Brazil in 58.10 and the Netherlands' Inge Dekker in 58.54.