By John Lohn
Photos by Peter H. Bick
MONTREAL, Canada, July 31. SEVERAL major names lined up for Sunday night’s final of the men’s 50-meter backstroke. But, the gold medal wasn’t draped around any of their necks. Instead, Greece’s Aristeidis Grigoriadis collected his first world title, winning the one-lap sprint in 24.95, just ahead of the 24.99 performance turned in by Australian veteran Matt Welsh.
Grigoriadis was the top seed heading into the final, but was facing a field that included the world-record holder in the event and a pair of former world champs. It didn’t matter, though, as Grigoriadis lunged to the wall before the opposition. While Welsh picked up the silver medal, the bronze medal went to Great Britain’s Liam Tancock in 25.02.
The 2001 world champion, the United States’ Randall Bal took fourth place with an effort of 25.23, just ahead of the fifth-place showing from American Aaron Peirsol (25.30), already the champion in the 100 and 200 distances of the dorsal event. The defending champ and world-record holder, Germany’s Thomas Rupprath finished sixth in 25.38.
Japan’s Junichi Miyashita claimed the seventh position, behind a time of 25.85, and the eighth slot was filled by Marco DiCarli of Germany, who covered the distance in 26.48, nearly a second slower than his swim from the semifinal round.