By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 28. COULD we see a world record in the final of the 200-meter breaststroke on Friday night? Absolutely, but Brendan Hansen is going to have to handle the chores by himself. The gold medalist in the 100 breast earlier in the week, Hansen easily gained the top seed for the final of the longer breast, as he was timed in 2:10.23.
The world-record holder in the 100 and 200 distances, Hansen is expected to give his global standard of 2:09.04 in the four-lap affair a serious run and could become the first man to ever crack the 2:09 barrier. In shooting for that benchmark, however, Hansen will not be pushed. The second qualifier, Canada’s Mike Brown, was more than a second back in 2:11.26 and likely can’t go much quicker.
Japan’s Genki Imamura collected the third seed for the final, as he negotiated the race in 2:11.77, quicker than the fourth-best time, a 2:12.17 posted by Australia’s Jim Piper, who has been under 2:11 during his career, but can’t stay with Hansen. The fifth position was occupied by Russia’s Grigory Falko in a mark of 2:12.20.
Also earning berths to the championship heat were Poland’s Slawomir Kuczko (2:12.34), Italy’s Loris Facci (2:12.43) and Russia’s Dmitry Komornikov, a former world-record holder who was clocked in 2:12.50. American Scott Usher just missed making the final, as he touched the wall in 2:13.03 for ninth place.