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September 17, 2000
World records tumble in Olympic pool
Three more world records tumbled in the super-fast Olympic pool Sunday as swimmers took their record-breaking haul to eight in the first two days of the Sydney Games.
On a day marred by the death overnight of the wife of International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch and by yet another doping scandal, two Dutch swimmers and an American took centre stage.
Australian teenage sensation Ian Thorpe was upstaged for once as Dutchman Pieter Van Den Hoogenband broke the 17-year-old's 200 metres freestyle world record in the semifinals by just 0.16 seconds.
Thorpe, the adored home hero of the first day when he won two gold medals in world record time, came within a whisker of taking back his record when he qualified for Monday's final in the second semifinal but he failed by a meagre 0.02 seconds.
Hoogenband's compatriot Inge de Bruijn completed a fabulous day for the Dutch by winning the women's 100 metres butterfly gold medal, shaving three-hundreths of a second off her own world record.
American Tom Dolan wrapped up the festivities with a third world record in the final event of the day, the men's 400 metres individual medley, beating his own six-year-old record by more than half a second.
Five world records were set in a sensational opening day at the pool on Saturday and the tally of eight in two days is already double the number broken at the last Olympics in Atlanta four years ago.
The flag at Sydney's Olympic Stadium flew at half mast after the death overnight in Spain of Samaranch's 67-year-old wife Maria Teresa.
Samaranch flew back to Spain on Saturday after his wife's health deteriorated suddenly but by the time he arrived home she was already dead.
Doping raised its ugly head yet again with an Iranian boxer and a Norwegian weightlifter suspended for failing pre-games tests. The IOC said another unnamed competitor in the Olympic village had failed a dope test but declined to give further details.
But the Romanian weightlifting team, thrown out of the Olympics earlier in the day because three of their competitors failed dope tests this year, took advantage of a curious rule to get themselves reinstated.
They agreed to pay a fine of $ 50,000 to the International Weightlifting Federation to have the suspension removed, allowing their four competitors -- excluding those who failed drug tests -- to stay in Sydney.
The world's most celebrated weightlifter, Turkey's Naim Suleymanoglu, meanwhile failed in his bid for a fourth Olympic title when he was unable to lift 145 kgs with all three snatch attempts.
Croatia's Nicolay Pechalov took the gold medal in the men's 62 kg category instead.
Simon Whitfield won the first Olympic men's triathlon for Canada but his victory outside the Sydney opera house was almost a home win.
Whitfield, has dual nationality, with an Australian father and was educated in Sydney.
Out on the Dunc Gray velodrome, France's Arnaud Tournant finally got the gold that eluded him on Saturday when he surprisingly finished out of the medals in fifth place in the one km time trial.
This time he led the French team to victory in the Olympic sprint, edging out Britain by just under half a second.
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