By Craig Lord
FUKUOKA, Japan, July 24. IAN Thorpe was back on his blocks just 15 minutes after qualifying for the final of the 200m freestyle against Pieter van den Hoogenband. Before that boiling battle, there was another one to tackle, over 800m against teammate
Grant Hackett, the Olympic 1,500m champion.
Men's 800 meter Freestyle
Thorpe, 18, and Hackett, 21, swam stroke for stroke for 14 of the 16 lengths before the younger of the national rivals sprinted away from the elder of them on his way to becoming the first man to break 7:40. His 7:39.16 was under his previous best by 2.43 seconds, while Hackett, the Olympic champion over 1,500 meters, claimed the silver medal in 7:40.34.
Behind the war raged another battle, between Graeme Smith, of Britain and the Olympic bronze medalist over 1,500m in 1996, and, until 600 meters at least, Chris Thompson, of the US and the Olympic bronze medalist over 1,500m in 2000. Smith did to Thompson what Thorpe had done to Hackett at the end of the race and stopped the clock in 7:51.12, well under the 7:56.73 to which he had lowered the British record in the heats.
Men's 200 meter Butterfly
Thorpe's world record, which brought him his third gold medal of the championships so far – and he will race for four more before the week is out – was not the only one of the night. And the second world record fell to an even younger man, Michael Phelps, of the United States, who clocked 1:54.58 to win the 200 metres butterfly title.
At 16, however, he could not claim to be the youngest male world champion ever, that accolade held by Thorpe, who at 15 in 1998 became world champion over 400 meters freestyle.
Women's 50 meter Backstroke
There was upset in the women's 50 meter backstroke when the world record holder, Sandra Volker, of Germany, was pushed out of the medal places in a
blanket finish. The title went to Hayley Cope, of the US, in 28.51, with Germany's Anjte Buschschulte second just 0.02 behind and Natalie Coughlin, of the US, third another 0.01 behind. Volker was fourth in
28.62, against her world record of 28.25.
Men's 100 meter Breaststroke
Roman Sloudnov, of Russia, did not need to go below the 1-minute barrier he cracked open last month and again in the semi-finals of the 100m breaststroke yesterday to win the world title.
It took the 21-year-old from Omsk 1:00.16 to claim his first world crown, his semi-final effort of 59.94sec, a world record, having forced his rivals into a position where they took the final out too hard to survive over the closing 20 meters.
Ed Moses, the American from whom Sloudnov had taken the world record in June, set the pace by turning in 28.04sec, inside world record pace, with the Russian 0.24sec behind. Moses held his place for the next 15 meters, before Sloudnov made his move.
With 20 meters to go, the Russian started to draw level as Moses gave a hint that he would struggle to the wall and Domenico Fioravanti, the Italian who became Olympic champion last year, saw his chance.
Sloudnov sailed passed Moses in the final 10 meters and snatched a comfortable victory, Fioravnati strong enough to take the silver in 1:00.47, just 0.01sec slower than the time in which he had won the Olympic
crown, and Moses the bronze in 1:00.61, 0.12sec faster than the time in which he won the silver medal behind the Italian in Sydney, when Sloudnov had finished third in 1:00.91.
Japan's Kosuke Kitajima was a close third in 1:00.67.
The Russian said: "I did not pay attention to the swimmers around me. The last part of the race was much harder than the first – I was really hurting."
Asked what the secret of his success was, he replied:
"I'm coached by my mother."
Fioravanti, meanwhile, hinted at another vast improvement to come after the one he made last year to become Olympic champion: "I knew that I hadn't trained hard enough this year and I felt guilty…its hard to swim under 1 minute but I'd like to try to do it next year."
Moses, meanwhile, said: " I was really tired in the last 10 meters. I was ready for the other guys to be fast in the last 50 meters – and that's what
happened." The fact that Moses is the second-fastest 200m swimmer in history suggests that he may just be getting his tactics wrong over the 100 meters.
In semifinal action, the favorites all advanced into tomorrow's finals, but the US met with only mixed success.
In the men's 50 back, Germany's Thomas Rupprath posted what was easily the fastest time 25.31 seconds, with the USA's Randall Bal second fastest at 25.59 and Australia's Matt Welsh, winner of the 100 meter backstroke yesterday, third at 25.72. The USA's Neil Walker, short course WR-holdder, swam 26.40, failing to make the finals.
Inky De Bruijn had the fastest semifinal time in the women's 100 meter free with a 54.47 effort, while her closest potential competitor, Sweden's Therese Alshammar dropped out due to illness. Slovakia's Martina Moravcova qualified in a tie for third at 55.19.
The USA failed to qualify for the finals as Maritza Correia qualified ninth (55.60) while Colleen Lanne was thirteenth (55.98).
Tactics were on the mind of Pieter van den Hoogenband, of the Netherlands, who hinted that he wanted history to repeat itself when he clocked 1:45.80 in the semi-final of the 200m freestyle.
His great rival, Ian Thorpe, of Australia, in the next lane was not prepared to go with the Dutchman as he swam inside Thorpe's world record pace at the 100m, his split 51.72sec. But by the 150m mark, he was 0.49sec down on Thorpe's world record pace and a further half a sceond by the end.
Thorpe, who 20 minutes later would take to his blocks for the 800m final against teammate Grant Hackett, cruised through the race in 1:47.26 to qualify second-fastest for the final tomorrow.
Both Americans breezed into the finals, with Klete Keller turning in a PR 1:47.77 performance to take the #3 spot just ahead of Italy's Emiliano Brembilla, while Scott Goldblatt qualified fifth in 1:48.50.
The women's 200 breast saw WR-holder, Qi Hui, of China, coast into the finals with a 2:27.24, good enough for the sixth spot.
Beatrice Coada-Caslaru, the Romanian coached by her husband in France, clocked a championship record of 2:25.00 in the first semifinal of the 200m breaststroke to edge out Agnes Kovacs, the Olympic champion from Hungary, at 2:25.83, while the world record holder Qi Hui, of China, improved 4 seconds on her heats time with a 2:27.24 effort that still leaves her 5 seconds shy of her record best.
In the second semi-final, Luo Xuejuan, of China, split 1:09.32 at the 100m to draw gasps of breath, before fading down the final length. She hung on to win in 2:26.03, just ahead of Kristy Kowal, of the US, at 2:26.25, and Olga Bakaldina, the Russian newcomer, in 2:26.63.
Megan Quann, the USA's second swimmer, will not advance to the finals after swimming a disappointing 2:29.25 to finish twelfth.
MEN'S 800m FREESTYLE
1 THORPE Ian AUS 82 7:39.16 WR
2 HACKETT Grant AUS 80 7:40.34
3 SMITH Graeme GBR 76 7:51.12
4 THOMPSON Chris USA 78 7:53.95
5 FILIPETS Alexei RUS 78 7:56.30
6 RIGHI Andrea ITA 79 7:57.69
7 HELL Heiko GER 80 7:59.47
8 FUJITA Shunichi JPN 82 7:59.57
WOMEN'S 50m BACKSTROKE
1 COPE Haley USA 79 28.51
2 BUSCHSCHULTE Antje GER 78 28.53
3 COUGHLIN Natalie USA 82 28.54
4 VOLKER Sandra GER 74 28.62
5 MOCANU Diana iuliana ROM 84 28.86
6 CALUB Dyana AUS 75 28.89
7 ZHIVANEVSKAYA Nina ESP 77 28.90
8 SCHREUDER Hinkelien NED 84 28.99
MEN'S 200m BUTTERFLY
1 PHELPS Michael USA 85 1:54.58 WR
2 MALCHOW Thomas USA 76 1:55.28
3 POLIAKOV Anatoli RUS 80 1:55.68
4 ESPOSITO Franck FRA 1:55.71
5 YAMAMOTO Takashi JPN 78 1:55.84
6 SYLANTIEV Denis UKR 76 1:56.71
7 NORRIS Justin AUS 80 1:57.18
8 LIVINGSTON Andrew PUR 78 1:58.68
MEN'S 100m BREASTSTROKE
1 SLOUDNOV Roman RUS 80 1:00.16
2 FIORAVANTI Domenico ITA 77 1:00.47
3 MOSES Ed USA 80 1:00.61
4 KITAJIMA Kosuke JPN 82 1:00.67
5 KNABE Morgan CAN 81 1:01.27
6 LISOGOR Oleg UKR 79 1:01.51
7 MEW Darren GBR 79 1:01.92
8 DUBOSCQ Hugues FRA 1:01.94
MEN'S 50m BACKSTROKE
(Top 8 advance to Finals)
1 RUPPRATH Thomas GER 75 25.31
2 BAL Randall USA 80 25.59
3 WELSH Matt AUS 76 25.72
4 SIEMBIDA Mariusz POL 75 25.82
5 JANES Riley CAN 80 25.83
6 SHYRSHOV Vyacheslav UKR 79 25.95
6 WATSON Josh AUS 77 25.95
6 THELOKE Stev GER 78 25.95
9 MORITA Tomomi JPN 84 25.97
10 WILLEY Neil GBR 76 25.98
11 ABAL Pablo martin ARG 77 26.00
12 GRIGALIONIS Darius LTU 77 26.08
13 MASSURA NETO Alexandre BRA 75 26.12
14 HORVATH Peter HUN 74 26.30
15 WALKER Neil USA 76 26.40
16 LONNBERG Daniel SWE 71 26.48
WOMEN'S 100m FREESTYLE
(Top 8 advance to Finals)
1 DE BRUIJN Inge NED 73 54.47
2 MEISSNER Katrin GER 73 55.15
3 POPTCHENKO Elena BLR 79 55.19
3 MORAVCOVA Martina SVK 76 55.19
5 VOLKER Sandra GER 74 55.28
6 XU Yanwei CHN 84 55.33
7 RYAN Sarah AUS 77 55.37
8 SJOBERG Johanna SWE 78 55.43
9 CORREIA Maritza USA 81 55.60
10 VIANINI Cecilia ITA 76 55.80
11 MINAMOTO Sumika JPN 79 55.90
12 YEDRZEJCZAK Otylia POL 83 55.97
13 LANNE Colleen USA 79 55.98
14 NICHOLLS Laura CAN 78 56.23
15 JACOBSEN Mette DEN 73 56.30
16 STRIANI Luisa ITA 78 56.33
MEN'S 200m FREESTYLE
(Top 8 advance to Finals)
1 VAN DEN HOOGENBAND Pieter NED 78 1:45.80 CR
2 THORPE Ian AUS 82 1:47.26
3 KELLER Klete USA 82 1:47.77
4 BREMBILLA Emiliano ITA 78 1:47.84
5 GOLDBLATT Scott USA 79 1:48.50
6 KIRBY William AUS 75 1:48.88
7 JOHNSTON Mark CAN 79 1:48.90
8 CARSTENSEN Jacob DEN 78 1:49.26
9 SVOBODA Kvetoslav CZE 82 1:49.30
10 PALMER Paul GBR 74 1:49.32
11 MEOLANS Jose martin ARG 78 1:49.34
12 HOSOKAWA Daisuke JPN 82 1:49.73
13 HERBST Stefan GER 78 1:49.75
14 POHL Stefan GER 78 1:49.78
15 SAY Richard CAN 79 1:49.80
16 OIKONOMOU Athanasios GRE 78 1:50.28
WOMEN'S 200m BREASTSTROKE
(Top 8 advance to Finals)
1 CASLARU Beatrice Nicoleta ROM 75 2:25.00 CR
2 KOVACS Agnes HUN 81 2:25.83
3 LUO Xuejuan CHN 84 2:26.03
4 KOWAL Kristy USA 78 2:26.25
5 BAKALDINA Olga RUS 85 2:26.63
6 QI Hui CHN 85 2:27.24
7 JONES Leisel AUS 85 2:28.11
8 JUKIC Mirna AUT 86 2:28.41
9 SAKAGUCHI Yuko JPN 79 2:28.50
10 FISCHER Elvira AUT 78 2:28.71
11 POEWE Sarah RSA 83 2:28.76
12 QUANN Megan USA 84 2:29.25
13 HANSON Brooke AUS 78 2:29.40
14 WEILER Simone GER 78 2:31.13
15 PETELSKI Christin CAN 77 2:31.73
16 KING Jaime GBR 76 2:34.67