Olympic champions claim world titles

FUKUOKA, Japan, Reuters

Inge de Bruijn rippled to her second title in two days and three fellow Olympic champions added world crowns to their Sydney golds at the world swimming championships on Thursday.

Brendan Hansen, who failed to make the American Olympic team, proved a worthy interloper on this day of revived memories of Sydney, earning a fifth title for the U.S. in the Marine Messe indoor pool with a bold victory in the men’s 200 meters breaststroke.

Sweden’s Lars Frolander, Romania’s Diana Mocanu and Italy’s Massimiliano Rosolino repeated their Sydney triumphs to claim their first world titles.

Frolander deposed Australian world record holder Michael Klim in the men’s 100 meters butterfly, Mocanu took the women’s 200m backstroke and Rosolino turned on the power late in the race to win the men’s 200 individual medley.

Ian Thorpe, with four gold medals already in his possession, qualified second fastest for Friday’s men’s 100 freestyle final behind world record holder and Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband, who notched a championship record 48.57 seconds in the semifinals to the Australian’s 48.96.

Britain were finally crowned women’s 4×200 meters freestyle relay champions after the disqualification of Australia and the United States, who had finished ahead of them on Wednesday evening, was upheld. It was Britain’s first world championship gold since David Wilkie triumphed in Cali, Colombia, in 1975.

De Bruijn, a triple Olympic champion, moved into new territory by winning the 50 meters butterfly, an event never previously contested at a global long-course championships.

The 27-year-old Dutchwoman, who won her first world championship title in the 100m freestyle on Wednesday, duelled with her old adversary Therese Alshammar but always had the edge, winning in 25.90 seconds.

Alshammar, silver medallist behind De Bruijn in the Olympic 50m and 100m freestyle finals, had to settle for silver yet again, clocking 26.18 seconds. Fellow Swede Anna-Karin Kammerling took the bronze in 26.45.

Frolander, third at the turn, hurtled home in the 100m butterfly in a championship record 52.10 seconds as Klim, who suffered an ankle injury late last month, faded to seventh and American Ian Crocker and Olympic bronze medallist Geoff Huegill took silver and bronze.

But Klim’s 51.81 world record survived Frolander’s onslaught.

“It’s a shame I couldn’t get the world record but now I’ve got the European, Olympic and world gold medals I’m extremely happy,” the 27-year-old Swede said.

“I was going for the world record but it was a bit tough over the second half of the race. I couldn’t see anyone during the race, so I knew I was going well.”

“I really mucked it up. I’m very disappointed,” said Klim, hero of the 1998 Perth world championships where he won seven medals, four of them gold.

“I didn’t attack the race the way I normally do and I didn’t give myself a chance to win. Give credit to Lars. My start was off and it just didn’t happen.”

Hansen also broke a championship record, charging past more fancied fellow American Ed Moses on the last length to gain a urprise win in the 200m breaststroke in 200.69 from Austria’s Maxim Podoprigora (201.09) and Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima (201.21).

“It was unbelievable to finish like this,” 19-year-old Hansen said. “When I looked at the screen I could not believe it.”

Rosolino trailed near the back for the first two legs of the individual medley but hit the front on the breaststroke and pulled away on the freestyle to win by more than two seconds from American Tom Wilkens in 109.71.

“Sorry to have kept you worried till the very end but you know I’m always like this,” he said. “It takes a while until I get my rhythm but gold is gold and I’m still number one.”

Mocanu also came through from behind to win the women’s 200m backstroke in 2:09.94, ahead of Russian Stanislava Komarova and Britain’s Joanna Fargus.