By John Lohn
MONTREAL, Canada, July 30. THE big guns are lurking. That’s the best way to describe Sunday night’s final of the men’s 50-meter backstroke. The men occupying the third through fifth positions after the semifinals are the major names in the event. And, it is highly probable that the gold medal will go to one of those athletes.
Australia’s Matt Welsh, long a major player on the international dorsal scene, recorded the third-fastest time of the semifinals, as he got to the wall in 25.36. That swim trailed the top qualifying time of 25.11, uncorked by Greece’s Aristeidis Grigoriadis. Seeded second behind the Greek is Great Britain’s Liam Tancock, who covered his lap in 25.22.
The world-record holder and defending champion, Germany’s Thomas Rupprath notched the fourth-fastest qualifying time, as he stopped the clock in 25.52, just ahead of the 25.55 of Aaron Peirsol, already the champion in the 100 and 200 distances. Peirsol lowered his world record in the 200 back on Friday night. Japan’s Junichi Miyashita (25.58) was sixth after the semifinals and American Randall Bal was seventh in 25.60. Bal won the world title in this event in 2001. Taking the final spot for the championship heat was Germany’s Marco DiCarli (25.69).