Saturday, September 16|
U.S. men lose relay for first time
SYDNEY, Australia -- Ian Thorpe powered Australia to
a world-record victory in the 400-meter freestyle relay and ended
American Olympic domination of the event since it was first
held 36 years ago in Tokyo.
Thorpe, who earlier had won the 400 individual freestyle,
touched in 3 minutes, 13.67 seconds after Michael Klim had
led Australia off with a 100-meter world record time.
Klim took Australia out on the first leg in 48.18 seconds
to better the 48.21 mark set by Russian Alexander Popov in Monaco on June 18,
Chris Fydler held off American Neil Walker but the U.S.
were gaining and the lead was a mere 0.25 seconds when Ashley
Callus, the third Australian swimmer, handed over to Thorpe.
American Gary Hall Jr. burst down the first length of the
50-meter Homebush Bay pool and overtook Thorpe, but the
17-year-old prodigy proved equal to the challenge, clawing back
the deficit on the return length to surge through for victory.
"I had a real honor to bring us home, an
honor and legacy of Australian swimming," Thorpe said. "We've built up this
day as a very special day."
The U.S. quartet touched in 3:13.86 as both teams finished
well within the 3:15.11 world mark posted by another American
squad, also featuring Hall, in Atlanta in August 1995, a year
before the Olympics there.
Brazil took the bronze medals in 3:17.40.
The Australian win prompted ecstatic celebrations in a
crowd which had witnessed five world records during the evening
session - three set by home swimmers including Thorpe in his
400m freestyle victory.
"I wasn't going for the record. I was just trying to get
the team off to a good start," Klim said.
"We proved that Aussie mates are Aussie mates. We made
Earlier, Thorpe gave Aussie fans
the world record and Olympic title in a magnificent victory in the 400 meters freestyle final.
The 17,500 crowd had
already witnessed one world record from Ukraine's Yana
Klochkova in the women's 400 meters individual medley and
anything less from the home nation's 17-year-old swimming hero
would have been an anti-climax.
But Thorpe, clad in full bodysuit, delivered in style,
scattering his rivals as he added the Olympic crown to the
world title he won in Perth in 1998.
Thorpe was inside world record schedule throughout the race
and won in three minutes 40.59 seconds to lower the mark of
3:41.33 he set in the Australian Olympic trials in this pool on
Italy's Massimiliano Rosolino manfully tried to keep in
touch with Thorpe but the young master pulled away, powered by
the enormous kick of his size 17 feet, to win by nearly three
Rosolino took the silver in 3:43.40, more than four seconds
faster than New Zealand's Danyon Loader winning time at the
1996 Atlanta Games.
Nobody else was anywhere near. American Klete Keller took
the bronze in 3:47.00.
The flag-waving crowd had roared their support throughout,
chanting "Thorpey, Thorpey!" and cheering as he hit his turns.
Thorpe smiled after his triumph and acknowledged their
"It was pretty amazing...in front of my own crowd and it
was just fortunate I was able to perform well in front of
them," Thorpe said. "It really was a dream come true.
"I'm on such a high...and now I've come through in this
style and fashion (it) proves me in my training and everything
Thorpe had given his adoring fans an early treat by
nonchalantly setting the first Olympic swimming record of the
Sydney Games in the morning's opening session.
He did not over-exert himself in the heats but still
produced sufficient pace to clock 3:44.65 and beat the 3:45.00
Olympic record set by Russian Yevgeny Sadovy in an epic final
duel with Kieren Perkins at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Thorpe became the youngest men's world champion ever when
he won the 400 freestyle at the age of 15 in Perth in January
He has not been beaten in a major long-course race at the
distance since then, winning the Commonwealth and Pan Pacific
titles and lowering the world record twice before Saturday's
|The Australian relay team handed the United States its first loss in the 400 freestyle relay.|
Thompson leads assault on record books
Complete swimming results