The Thorpedo Triumphs over Hoogie in the “Race of the Century”, Phelps Takes the Bronze

By Stephen J. Thomas

ATHENS, Greece. August 16. AUSSIE world record-holder Ian Thorpe has waited four years for this moment, a chance to turn the tables on his archrival, Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband. On his home waters in Sydney, Thorpe went into this race as world record-holder and a hot favourite only to be ambushed by the flying Dutchman who took the race out hard and left the Aussie in his wake.

Tonight Hoogie employed the same strategy again — and how! He was under the world record splits for the first three turns: 50: -0.37, 100: -1.03, 150: -0.54, but Thorpe was also under WR pace and just two-tenths of a second behind Hoogie.

The writing was on the wall with 50-meters to go. Thorpe powered past to touch in 1:44.71 – equalling the third fastest swim over the distance and Thorpe now owns nine of the top ten times in this event.

But that’s not the end of the story. There was another superstar of swimming in this race – one Michael Phelps and he certainly gave it his best, tracking in third place behind his rivals until the final 50-meters -1.11 of a second behind Hoogie. But the bullet from Baltimore dug deep into his endurance power-pack and wound up just 0.09 of a second behind the Dutchman at the wall for another bronze medal and a new American record, 1:45.32.

Thorpe said after the race, he had said to Hoogie at the wall, "Now we're even, it will be an even tougher race in Beijing." on whether he though he would catch Hoogie, "of course, he's a sprinter and I'm an endurance swimmer," he said. On his performance thus far, "this totally justifies the decision I made (with changing coaches) I've certainly had more success than in Sydney."

van den Hoogenband said of his strategy to go out fast, "as defending champion I had to show something, I wanted to improve the limits (of the world record) in Bejinbut I had given too much to the first 100-meters", he explained. It was my second best time in an Olympic final and with these swim phenomenons around, it was quite a joyful experience as well, especially in a field with Grant, Ian and Michael. To be beaten by one of the best in the sport, well that's the way it is."

The USA’s Klete Keller was overshadowed by the struggle in the center lanes but still got to the wall fourth, ahead of Aussie Grant Hackett, slashing his PR by a huge 0.74 and touching in 1:46.13 to move past Josh Davis as the second all-time American performer and fifth globally.

Given the windy conditions this was indeed a very fast race.

Men 200m Freestyle Finals

Record Splits Name NOC Location Date
WR 1:44.06 24.81 51.45 1:18.26 THORPE Ian AUS Fukuoka (JPN) 25 JUL 2001
OR 1:45.35 24.51 51.12 1:18.31 V.D. HOOGENBAND Pieter NED Sydney (AUS) 17 SEP 2000

Event No: 8

Rank Lane Name NOC R.T. 50m 100m 150m Time Time
1 5 THORPE Ian AUS 0.90 (2) 24.81 (2) 51.04
26.23 (2) 1:17.92
26.88 1:44.71
26.79 OR
2 4 van den HOOGENBAND Pieter NED 0.79 (1) 24.44 (1) 50.42
25.98 (1) 1:17.72
27.30 1:45.23
27.51 0.52
3 3 PHELPS Michael USA 0.76 (4) 25.22 (3) 51.70
26.48 (3) 1:18.83
27.13 1:45.32
26.49 0.61 AM
4 6 KELLER Klete USA 0.80 (6) 25.52 (5) 52.31
26.79 (4) 1:19.38
27.07 1:46.13
26.75 1.42
5 2 HACKETT Grant AUS 0.75 (5) 25.41 (6) 52.36
26.95 (5) 1:19.58
27.22 1:46.56
26.98 1.85
6 8 SAY Rick CAN 0.75 (3) 25.03 (4) 52.07
27.04 (6) 1:19.81
27.74 1:47.55
27.74 2.84
7 7 BURNETT Simon GBR 0.75 (7) 26.21 (7) 53.12
26.91 (7) 1:20.58
27.46 1:48.02
27.44 3.31
8 1 BREMBILLA Emiliano ITA 0.85 (8) 26.26 (8) 53.27
27.01 (8) 1:21.05
27.78 1:48.40
27.35 3.69

after his second plac to thorpe in 200 free

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Author: Archive Team


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