2012 London Olympics: Ranomi Kromowidjojo Sweeps Sprint Freestyle With Olympic Record; Aliaksandra Herasimenia, Marleen Veldhuis Finish Silver-Bronze; Defending Champ Britta Steffen Fourth, Jessica Hardy Seventh

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LONDON, England, August 4. NO one could touch The Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo in the sprint freestyles this week at the 2012 London Olympics, and she ended her time here emphatically with an Olympic record in the women’s 50-meter freestyle.

Kromowidjojo won by .23 seconds in the splash-and-dash finale with a 24.05. That swim nipped Britta Steffen’s Olympic record of 24.06 set while winning at the 2008 Beijing Games. It also stands as the seventh-fastest effort all time. Additionally, it edged Kromowidjojo’s overall textile best of 24.07 from semis. The margin of victory is one of the most dominant in the event’s history since its inception in 1968. Kromowidjojo’s compatriot Inge de Bruijn owns the record with a .31 triumph over France’s Malie Metella, 24.58 to 24.89, in 2004. The Netherlands has now won three of the seven gold medals ever, with de Bruijn going back-to-back in 2000 and 2004. The win gave Kromowidjojo her third Olympic gold medal, and her fourth overall.

By winning the 50 free today, Kromowidjojo joins three other women to have swept the sprint freestyles in the Olympics since 1998, when the 50 free made its debut. East Germany’s Kristin Otto did it in Seoul in 1988, and then de Bruijn in 2000. Britta Steffen also completed the double, doing so with dramatic closing speed over early leaders.

Belarus’ Aliaksandra Herasimenia took silver in 24.28 to move to 11th all time in the event. The world co-titlist from the 2011 World Championships in the 100 free, snared her second silver of the meet this week having already taken second to Kromowidjojo in the 100.

“I’m so upset. I wanted to beat her (Ranomi Kromowidjojo),” Herasimenia said. “The competition was difficult. This is the Olympic Games. There was too much nervousness. I feel proud. I’m here and it’s very, very good.”

Kromowidjojo’s teammate Marleen Veldhuis finished with bronze in 24.39, the first time since China went 1-2 in 1992 that a country won a pair of medals in the event. She now has four Olympic medals to her name, with a gold in the 400 free relay with Kromowidjojo in 2008, as well as two other 400 free relay medals from 2004 (bronze) and 2012 (silver).

“It’s a great night for Holland,” Veldhuis said. “I’m really pleased with the result. I had a baby two years ago, and it was a tough way to come back, but I did it and it’s really nice. The time doesn’t matter to me anymore, it doesn’t matter when it’s bronze. I’m really happy.”

Defending champion Britta Steffen of Germany finished just off the podium with a fourth-place 24.46, while hometown favorite Fran Halsall of Great Britain took fifth in 24.47.

“I am happy with fourth,” Steffen said. “I would like to have done better. I would like to have won or got my hands on a medal but fourth in a tough field like that is also good. Now I just want to go on holiday.”

Sweden’s Therese Alshammar (24.61), USA’s Jessica Hardy (24.62) and Bahamas’ Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (24.69) also competed in the finale.

“I am definitely a little disappointed with it but I am very glad for the experience,” Hardy said.

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