Ahead Of Next World Champs, How Fukuoka Put On Special Show During Last Hosting Duties

Ian Thorpe

Ahead Of Next World Champs, How Fukuoka Put On Special Show During Last Hosting Duties

When the World Championships open in Fukuoka this summer, it will have been 22 years since the competition was last held in the Japanese city. Following a 2022 campaign in which the major meets lacked full fields, action in Fukuoka is expected to feature a full complement of stars – one year out from the Olympic Games in Paris.

David Popovici of Romania looks on after winning the silver medal in the 200m Freestyle men Final during the FINA Swimming Short Course World Championships at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre in Melbourne, Australia, December 18th, 2022. Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Photo Courtesy: Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

A clash between the past two Olympic champions in the 400-meter freestyle, Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky, is expected, with rising star Summer McIntosh also part of the duel. On the men’s side, a showdown between David Popovici and Kyle Chalmers will be a highlight, the event more enticing if Caeleb Dressel returns from his hiatus.

As we look ahead to what Fukuoka might bring, it’s worth revisiting what unfolded in 2001. After all, that competition was special in nature. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the last time Fukuoka served as host of the World Champs.

  • A little less than a year after making his Olympic debut as a 15-year-old, Michael Phelps claimed his first world title – and he did so in style. En route to defeating reigning Olympic champ Tom Malchow, Phelps set a world record of 1:54.58 in the 200 butterfly to defeat his American counterpart by .70. From this point forward, Phelps raced as a multi-event star, eventually totaling 28 Olympic medals.
  • Three different nations earned gold medals in the women’s relays, and the United States was not one of them. While Germany and Great Britain won the 400 freestyle relay and 800 freestyle relay, respectively, Australia prevailed in the 400 medley relay. On the men’s side, Australia swept the relays, with Ian Thorpe on the anchor leg of all three squads.
  • Individually, Thorpe was even more impressive, claiming titles in the 200 freestyle, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle – all in world-record time. Thorpe clocked 1:44.06 in the 200 free, 3:40.17 in the 400 free and 7:39.16 to beat fellow Aussie Grant Hackett (7:40.34) in the 800 free. Hackett was the champ of the 1500 freestyle behind a world record of 14:34.56, and all of the times posted by Thorpe and Hackett in 2001 would be medal-contending in the current landscape of the sport.
  • Although the United States led the overall medal count with 26 podium finishes, Australia collected the most gold medals. The Dolphins won 13 titles, compared to the nine of Team USA.
  • Inge de Bruijn

    Inge De Bruijn – Photo Courtesy – Swimming World Magazine

    Coming off three victories at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Dutchwoman Inge de Bruijn was again a triple-gold medalist in Fukuoka. In addition to sweeping the sprint-freestyle events, de Bruijn topped the field in the 50 butterfly.

  • The American men, as was the case at the Sydney Games, got a glimpse of their future as Phelps was joined as a gold medalist by rising stars Anthony Ervin (50 freestyle/100 freestyle), Aaron Peirsol (200 backstroke) and Brendan Hansen (200 breaststroke). Meanwhile, Ian Crocker (100 butterfly) and Erik Vendt (400 individual medley) claimed silver medals and Klete Keller won bronze in the 200 freestyle.
  • Germany, especially on the women’s side, was a major factor with 15 medals – three gold, six silver and six bronze. Hannah Stockbauer won the 800 free and 1500 free, to go with a bronze in the 400 freestyle. Those days are far in the past, though. From 2011 through 2022, a total of six World Champs, Germany has won 16 medals.
  • Best known as the double-medley champion at the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, the Ukraine’s Yana Klochkova won gold in the 400 freestyle in Fukuoka. Klochkova posted a time of 4:07.30 and also won the 400 I.M. in 4:36.98.
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Kim
1 month ago

A bit boring, that it’s always the same cities who hosts the long course WC, Fukuoka, Kazan, Budapest, Barcelona, Perth…. Of course there is a new and “exciting” city in 24, Qatar/Doha with its long established swimming tradition, what a joke…. I’m sure it will be just as exiting to watch as the recent football World Cup, ha, ha 🙂 Why has the long course WC never been held in the US or GB, don’t they not know how to play the “game?

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