By Ian Hanson and Phil Whitten
ROME, June 10. RUSSIA'S Alex Popov and Australia's Ian Thorpe kept rolling along as the third stop in the Mare Nostrum meet drew to a close in the Eternal City.
The 29 year-old Czar swept the competition aside in the 50m free, touching in 22.11 seconds, the world's fastest time this year. Prebiously Britain's Mark Foster held the year's number one spot at 22.18, with Olympic co-gold medalist Anthony Ervin right behind at 22.18. Second place went to distanceman-turned-sprinter, Ryk Neethling in 23.03.
Thorpe kept his impressive European tour record intact with a comfortable victory in the 200 meter freestyle over fellow Australian William Kirby despite oppressive conditions that affected almost all the swimmers.
Thorpe clocked 1:47.86, well outside his world record of 1:44.69, with fellow Sydney Olympic 4 x 200m freestyle relay gold medalist, Kirby, taking silver in 1:49.88.
Australian head coach Don Talbot described the conditions in Rome as "hardly conducive to world class times."
Talbot said: "It is very, very hot here, there is hardly any shade and the finals are not starting until 8.30pm at night, which means some of the swimmers don’t get to bed until midnight. The conditions certainly don’t help when you’re trying to get up and swim fast."
Thorpe has now chalked up the 200-400 meter freestyle doubles in both Canet and Rome and will line up for the final Mare Nostrum stop in Monte Carlo.
Amanda Beard continued her stellar performance in the 200m breaststroke, lowering her winning time in Canet to 2:27.22, eight-tenths ahead of China's Luo Nan.
Russia's Irina Oufimtseva took the 400 free in 4:09.92, just ahead of Costa Rica's Claudia Poll at 2:10.40. Aussie Elka Graham turned in a personal best to take third in 4:12.88. Graham later came back to win the 100 meter freestyle in 56.30, just edging Italy's Luisa Striani (56.47).
Ukraine's Yana Klochkova cruised to a win in the 200 IM, touching in 2:14.38 with China's Liang Shuang less than a second behind (2:15.32).
Russian-turned-Spaniard Nina Zhivanevskaia had no trouble in winning the 100m back in 1:02.03, as Chinese newcomer Li Yuanging followed.
Popov and Thorpe were not the only headliners to win this sultry evening. Swedish Olympic champion Lars Frolander took a close 100m fly race from Ukraine's Denis Silantiev, 52.82 – 52.92.
Two Italians thrilled the home crowd by bringing home the gold. Alessio Boggiatto won the 400 IM in 4:18.62, well ahead of Aussie Grant McGregor (4:23.20), who finished just ahead of New Zealand's Dean Kent.
Double Olympic champion Domenico Fioravanti won a very tight 100m breaststroke race in 1:02.11, just ahead of Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor (1:02.17) and Austria's Patrick Schmollinger (1:02.21).
Italy's bid for a third win was thwarted when Austria's Markus Rogan turned away veteran Emanuelle Merisi in the 200m back, 2:01.21 – 2:01.49. Japan's Takashi Nakano was a close third (2:01.92). The USA's Lenny Krayzelburg, the Olympic champ and WR-holder, did not compete after winning the 100 back last night.
In the 1500 meters, Russia's Alexei Filipets, who just missed winning a bronze medal in Sydney, won here in 15:15.13, easily taking the measure of Italy's Nicolo Silleri and Japan's Takashi Matsuda.
1. 4:09.92 Irina Oufimtseva, RUS
2. 4:10.40 Claudia Poll, CRC
3. 4:12.88 Elka Graham, AUS
1. 2:27.22 Amanda Beard, USA
2. 2:28.01 Luo Nan, CHN
3. 2:29.40 Sarah Poewe, RSA
1. 56.30 Elka Graham, AUS
2. 56.47 Luisa Striani, ITA
3. 57.14 Christina Chiuso, ITA
1. 2:11.81 Ekaterina Vinogradova RUS
2. 2:13.11 Audrey Lacroix, CAN 2.13.11
3. 2:13.57 Sophia Skou, DEN
1. 1:02.03 Nina Zhivanevskaia, ESP
2. 1:02.92 Li Yuanging, CHN
3. 1:03.60 Stanislava Komarova, RUS
200m Individual Medley
1. 2:14.38 Yana Klochkova, UKR
2. 2:15.32 Liang Shuang, CHN
3. 2:18.53 Marianne Limpert, CAN
1. 1:47.86 Ian Thorpe, AUS
2. 1:49.88 Bill Kirby, AUS
3. Jacob Carstensen, DEN
1. 1:02.11 Domenico Fioravanti, ITA
2. 1:02.17 Oleg Lisogor, UKR
3. 1:02.21 Patrick Schmollinger AUT
1. 2:01.21 Markus Rogan, AUT
2. 2:01.49 Emanuelle Merisi, ITA
3. 2:01.92 Takashi Nakano, JPN
400m Individual Medley
1. 4:18.62 Alessio Boggiatto, ITA
2. 4:23.20 Grant McGregor, AUS
3. 4:24.89 Dean Kent, NZL
1. 22.11 Alex Popov, RUS
2. 23.03 Ryk Neethling, RSA
3. 23.32 Leonid Khuokhlov, RUS
1. 15:15.13 Alexei Filipets, RUS
2. 15:29.24 Nicolo Silleri, ITA
3. 15:29.24 Takashi Matsuda, JPN
1. 52.82 Lars Frolander, SWE
2. 52.92 Denis Silantiev, UKR
3. 53.66 Jere Hard, FIN
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