ArticlesAug 02 2012
WRITTEN BY SHARON ROBB
August 1, 2012
Not since 1988 when Matt Biondi touched the wall first in Seoul, South Korea, has the United States had a gold medalist in the sport’s marquis 100-meter freestyle event.
That is, until Wednesday at the Olympic competition at the London Aquatics Centre when Nathan Adrian knocked off Aussie favorite James Magnussen, out-touching him by 1/100th of a second to win in 47.52.
The field was stacked with not only Magnussen, but Brazilian Cesar Cielo, Yannick Agnel of France and Canadian Brent Hayden, who took the bronze .
Trailing with 25 meters to go, Adrian, in Lane 5, turned it on to get to the wall first with nearly an identical glide as Magnussen. Cielo had the best start but died at the first 50 meters.
When they both turned and looked at the scoreboard, the 23-year-old Adrian had the biggest smile and was then overcome with emotion. Magnussen was noticely upset both in the water and during the medal ceremony.
“Going into tonight, it was more of a matter of swimming my own race,” Adrian said. “I came back fast, was able to conserve that energy and finish strong this time. I knew it was going to take a lot more than I had ever done before to win that race.
“I almost started crying in the water,” Adrian said. “This is something that happens every four years. It’s not who swims the fastest time this year but it’s who can get their hands on the wall first here tonight.”
Added Magnussen, the 2011 world champion, “I gave everything I had and it wasn’t enough. I just felt pretty much bullet proof something into this Olympics and it is very humbling.”
In the women’s 100-meter freestyle, Coral Springs Swim Club’s three-time Olympian Arlene Semeco of Venezuela was eliminated finishing in 56.90 (27.06, 29.84 splits). It was a tuneup for her 50-meter freestyle later this week.
Three-time Olympian Alia Atkinson of Jamaica broke her own national record in the 200-meter breaststroke in 2:28.77 (her fifth national record of the Games) but was eliminated in the preliminaries. She also has the 50-meter freestyle remaining.
Two world records were broken, one in the men’s 200-meter breaststroke final and the other in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke semifinal. A total of five world records have been broken in five days at swimming.
Making his third Olympic appearance, Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta moved into the lead of the 200-meter breaststroke after the first 100 meters and stayed on world record pace to win the gold medal and break the world record in 2:07.28. The previous record was 2:07.31 set at the 2009 worlds by Aussie Christian Sprenger in a now-banned tech suit.
“To win an Olympic medal is totally different from winning a world or European title,” Gyurta said. “It is the biggest achievement of my life. It was a strong final.”
Great Britain’s Michael Jamieson took silver in 2:07.43 and Ryo Tateishi of Japan grabbed the bronze in 2:08.29 beating his countryman Kosuke Kitajima, the early leader and two-time defending Olympic champion, who was denied his third consecutive title and medal.
In the women’s 200-meter butterfly, American top seed Kathleen Hersey was denied a medal. 2011 world champion and 2008 Olympic silver medalist Liuyang Jiao of China overcame a slow start to win the gold in an Olympic record 2:04.06.
“I have waited for this gold for four years,” Jiao said. “I thought about giving up. I had to change my technique and that was quite difficult. Tonight I managed to win and it is a dream to stand on the highest part of the podium.”
Spain’s Mireia Belmonte won her country’s second medal ever in women’s swimming and first Spanish athlete at the Games to medal, finishing second in 2:05.25. Japan’s Natsumi Hoshi just edged out Hersey for the bronze in 2:05.48. Hersey was fourth in 2:05.78.
Less than two hours after qualifying third-fastest in the 100-meter freestyle semifinals, Franklin led off the Americans’ winning 4x200-meter freestyle relay team, giving Franklin, Allison Schmitt and Dana Vollmer their second gold medals of the game. Shannon Vreeland won her first gold as a member of the relay. “I am so happy to be a part of all of this,” Vreeland said.
Schmitt, 20, clinched the win coming back from trailing a half second to leading by nearly a full body length in 1.49 seconds to enable the U.S. to break the Olympic record in 7:44.41.
Franklin, 17, said one of the highlights of her Olympics has been receiving congratulatory tweets from two of her favorite singers, Justin Bieber and Scotty McCreery.
In other races:
Women’s 100-meter freestyle semifinals: Ranomi Kromowidjojo of the Netherlands broke the Olympic record in 53.05 as top qualifier in 53.08. American Jessica Hardy barely qualified eighth.
Men’s 200-meter backstroke semifinals: Ryan Lochte was top qualifier in 1:55.40 in the first heat but Tyler Clary earned the top seed in 1:54.71 in the second heat. Clary and Lochte are the top two seeds.
Women’s 200-meter breaststroke: American Rebecca Soni was the top qualifier reclaiming her world record in 2:20.00 in the second semifinal. “I was very surprised,” Soni said. “I am ecstatic about the time but I am trying not to focus on it. There is more in the tank. I am not ready to celebrate yet.”
On Thursday night, the final showdown between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte will take place in the 200-meter individual medley. Lochte and Phelps finished 1-2 in one semifinal in relatively slow times. They know they have to swim faster in the final. Lochte had the fastest qualifying time in 1:56.13 followed by Hungary’s Laszlo Cseh in 1:56.74 and Phelps in 1:57.11.
Phelps will have the advantage being fully-rested while Lochte will be coming off the 200-meter backstroke final.
American Troy Dumais, 32, finally got his Olympic medal in his fourth appearance at the Games.
The veteran diver teamed with rookie Olympian Kris Ipsen, 19, to take the bronze medal in the men’s 3-meter synchronized springboard diving final.
The pair totaled 446.70 points for six dives, just 13 points behind Russians Ilya Zakharov and Evgeny Kuznetsov who took silver with 459.63.
China won another gold medal and is now four-for-four in diving and could sweep all the gold medals. Kai Qin, 26, and Yutong Luo, competing in his first Olympics, won the gold medal with a near-perfect list for 477 points.
“It was a moment I will remember forever,” Dumais said. Said Ipsen, “This is truly amazing to come home with a medal. It happened. It’s just amazing.”
Former University of Miami diver Reuben Ross and his partner Alexander Despatie of Canada finished sixth.
Hungary’s women’s team knocked off No. 2 world-ranked China, 11-10; the U.S. ended an epic battle with Spain tied, 9-9, and Australia overwhelmed host Great Britain, 16-3.