By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 29. ONE of the best rivalries in the sport, and a friendly one at that, will be renewed. Ian Crocker and Michael Phelps qualified as the top seeds on Friday night for the championship race in the men’s 100-meter butterfly. Crocker is the defending world champ and world-record holder while Phelps is the reigning Olympic champion.
Crocker easily had the fastest time of the semifinals, as he blistered a 51.08 clocking. There’s good reason to believe that Crocker will break his world record of 50.76 in the final. As for Phelps, he won the first semifinal race in 52.02 and will be required to drop significant time if he is to win the latest round in this boxing match of butterfly sensations.
The Russian pair of Igor Marchenko and Evgeny Korotyshkin checked in at third and fourth. Marchenko clocked in at 52.23 while Korotyshkin used a 52.68 time to advance to the championship race. The bronze medalist at the Athens Olympics, the Ukraine’s Andriy Serdinov picked up the fifth-fastest qualifying time, an effort of 52.75.
Filling out the field for the final were Japan’s Ryo Takayasu (52.84), Brazil’s Kaio Almeida and Canada’s Mike Mintenko. Almeida and Mintenko tied for the seventh-fastest time, going 52.92. Milorad Cavic of Serbia and Montenegro finished in 10th place in 53.06.