By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 24. THEY’LL go at it one more time on Monday, with everything on the line. One of the top rivalries in the sport, the rematch of Brendan Hansen vs. Kosuke Kitajima is on the horizon. The men qualified first and second in the 100-meter breaststroke, each winning his heat with a time under the one-minute barrier.
Hansen competed in the first heat and scorched 59.75, the third-fastest time in history. The world-record holder in the event at 59.30, Hansen went out in 28.12 and looked strong down the stretch. As he moved within 15 meters of the wall, it appeared as if Hansen found another gear for the finish. As for Kitajima, he won his semifinal in 59.78, tied for the fourth-fastest time ever recorded. He also went 59.78 in 2003 and zipped 59.71 in the prelims.
Of the nine times in history that one minute has been broken, Hansen and Kitajima have combined for seven of the swims. Hansen has three and Kitajima owns four. The other two swims under the minute mark belong to Russia’s Roman Sloudnov. At last summer’s Olympics, Kitajima won gold ahead of Hansen. Kitajima is also the defending world champion.
Getting finer with age, the Ukraine’s Oleg Lisogor qualified third in 1:00.06, just missing the minute barrier, and France’s Hugues Duboscq was fourth in 1:00.11. Great Britain’s Chris Cook was fifth (1:00.64) and Slovenia’s Emil Tahirovic was sixth (1:00.84). The final will be completed by Alexander Dale Oen of Norway (1:01.28) and Russia’s Dmitry Komornikov (1:01.28). America’s Mark Gangloff was ninth in 1:01.35.