Olympics, Swimming: Olympic Record Tumbles Twice, Daniel Gyurta Paces Qualifying in 200 Breast

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 12. SINCE he won the silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in the 200 breaststroke, Hungary's Daniel Gyurta has been a disappointment on the world stage. And, it could all be forgotten real soon. The 19-year-old specialist in the 200 breast established an Olympic record by winning the final of seven heats in 2:08.68.

Gyurta entered the competition with a seed time of 2:10.71, but there's obviously something about the Olympics that he likes. Gyurta qualified just ahead of Italy's Paolo Bossini, who had a breakthrough performance of 2:08.98 to set an Olympic standard that lasted only a few minutes. The former mark was the 2:09.44 that Japan's Kosuke Kitajima used to win gold in Athens.

Another Italian, Loris Facci was the No. 3 qualifier with a personal best of 2:09.12, enough to hold off France's Hugues Duboscq (2:09.42) and Canadian Mike Brown (2:09.84). Kitajima, who broke the world record in the 100 breast on the way to gold on Monday morning, was next in 2:09.89. Kitajima owns the global standard at 2:07.51 and is the heavy favorite to repeat as champion.

One of the main stories of the meet, American Eric Shanteau qualified in the seventh position. Battling testicular cancer, for which he'll undergo surgery immediately after the Games, Shanteau was timed in 2:10.29, just ahead of the 2:10.39 of South Africa's William Diering. South Africa's Neil Versfeld was next in 2:10.50 and Scott Spann, the victor at the U.S. Trials, was 10th in 2:10.61.

Completing the field for the semifinals were Kazakhstan's Vlad Polyakov (2:10.83), Ireland's Andrew Bree (2:10.91), Australian Brenton Rickard (2:11.00), Ukrainian Igor Borysik (2:11.08), Great Britain's Kris Gilchrist (2:11.13) and New Zealand's Glenn Snyders (2:11.19). Norway's Alexander Dale Oen, the silver medalist in the 100 breast, was 17th in 2:11.30 and missed the semifinals. Dale Oen was seeded fifth in 2:09.74.