INDIANAPOLIS, October 10. CAN anyone stop Australia’s Brooke Hanson?
The 26 year-old Aussie with the enchanting smile stroked to her fifth gold medal of these Championships, becoming the most successful female swimmer ever to compete in the World Championships.
Hanson clocked 2:09.81, edging teammate Lara Carroll, 2:10.58, to lead another Aussie 1-2 sweep.
China’s Le Jingyi also won five golds in 1993 and again in ’95. But her five golds came in two individual events (50 and 100 free) and all three relays. By contrast, Hanson has four individual golds — in the 50 and 100 breast, and the 100 and 200 IM — plus a fifth gold (and world record) in the medley relay. She has one event left tomorrow – the 200 breast – but she expects strong challenges from Americans Amanda Beard and Kristy Kowal, China’s Luo Nan and Qi Hui, and Germany’s Simone Weiler.
Only China’s Le Jingyi won five golds at a single World Championships, twice achieving that total, in 1993 and ’95. But she only won two individual events — the 50 and 100 free – along with all three relays.
Three other swimmers have won four gold medals at the World Championships: China’s Dai Guohong in 1997 and ’99, Sweden’s Therese Alshammar (in 2000), and the USA’s
Kaitlin Sandeno (2004), with Dai and Sandeno each taking three individual events and Alshammar taking two.
Fifteen year-old Katie Hoff took the lead in the fly, splitting 28.52, under world record pace. Hanson was more than half a second back in third place in 29.06.
The North Baltimore phenom lengthened that lead on the backstroke leg, turning halfway through the race in 1:01.28. Seventeen year-old Aussie Lara Carroll moved up from seventh after the fly to the second spot at 1:02.03. Hanson turned sixth in 1:03.47.
Then she turned on the after-burners. After 150 meters, it had become a four-way race, with all four young women turning within 42-hundredths of a second of each other. Hoff still retained a narrow lead at 1:39.24, but Hanson was breathing down her beck (1:39.39), just ahead of Carroll (1:39.46) and Amanda Beard (1:39.66).
It was Hanson who had the most left, splitting 30.42 seconds for the final 50 meters of freestyle. Carroll split 31.12 to nab the silver, while Hoff’s 31.37 left her at 2:10.61, just three-hundredths behind Carroll. Beard was fourth in 2:10.91, just missing a medal.
In an exclusive interview, SwimInfo asked Hanson what winning five World Championship medals meant to her.
“I never dreamed of winning five. I’d have been happy with just one,” she said. But five? It just hasn’t sunk in yet.
Hanson, who was a highly-touted 16 year-old, but then failed to improve until she was 21, said: “I think I won’t want to say goodbye to 2004. It’s been such an incredible year for me.”