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September 23, 2000
Haul of fame for US swimmersDerek Parr
Americans Gary Hall and Anthony Ervin pulled off a rare dead-heat for gold in swimming's shortest race and dealt the final blow to Alexander Popov's dream of a historic Olympic treble on Friday.
Dutch power-swimmer Inge de Bruijn smashed her third world record in six days in the women's 50 metres freestyle semi-finals to hoist the Sydney Games tally to 12 world marks broken and one equalled in seven days of swimming in the Homebush Bay pool.
Hall and Ervin's double gold in the men's 50m freestyle final and a runaway win for Brooke Bennett in retaining her 800m metres freestyle title took the U.S. gold tally to 12, with one day to go.
The only previous time two gold medals were awarded in the same Olympic swimming event was after the dead-heat between Americans Nancy Hogshead and Carrie Steinseifer in the 1984 women's 100m metres freestyle final in Los Angeles.
Sweden's Gunnar Larsson and American Tim McKee clocked the same time in the men's 400m individual medley at the 1972 Munich Games, only for the judges to extend it to thousandths of a second and award the gold to Larsson.
That practice was abandoned but Hall might recall the race -- his father, also named Gary, finished fifth in 1972, having taken the silver in the event at the 1968 Mexico City Games.
Hall exulted in his shared victory on Friday with Phoenix Arizona teammate Ervin, the first swimmer of African-American descent to compete in a U.S. Olympic swimming team.
They sped down the pool in 21.98 seconds to beat Sydney double gold medallist Pieter van den Hoogenband into third place in 22.03 and banish Hall's arch-rival Popov from the medal podium for the first time, consigned to sixth place in 22.24.
"I couldn't share it with a nicer guy. We've practised every day this summer, so it just felt like practices," Hall said. "It couldn't have worked out any better. It gets very emotional for me. I've waited a long time, through a lot of hardships -- it's great."
The hardships include diabetes and a three-month ban for marijuana use in 1998 -- and Popov, who left a frustrated Hall with silver four times as he took the gold in the 50m and 100m freestyle at the 1994 world championships and 1996 Olympics.
Popov, who looked numbed when he saw the result, had set a world record 21.64 for the 50m in June and reclaimed the European title from van den Hoogenband in July in 21.95. That time would have won him gold on Friday and made him the first male swimmer to win the same individual Olympic event three times in succession.
The 28-year-old Russian, who won the 50m and 100m at the 1992 and 1996 Games, took the silver in the Sydney 100 metres and Hall picked up the bronze.
"Today the best two won," said van den Hoogenband, who beat Ian Thorpe to win the 200m freestyle title on Monday and took the 100m freestyle title from Popov on Wednesday, having set world records in both events.
"You have to have a good start to swim a good 50 metres and my start is not so good. They both had a terrific start and they swam very fast."
Hall, who flexed his muscles and took up a boxing pose before the start, had signalled his challenge by setting the fastest semi-final time and put everything into the one-length thrash down the pool to throw off years of frustration as eternal runner-up to the mighty Popov.
European champion Lars Frolander produced another upset, hurtling through at the end of the 100m butterfly to beat Australian pre-Games favourites Michael Klim and Geoff Huegill for Sweden's first gold in the pool.
Frolander clocked 52.00, with world champion Klim (52.18) and Commonwealth champion Huegill (52.22) having to settle for silver and bronze.
Sixteen-year-old Romanian Diana Mocanu completed a 100m and 200m backstroke double, becoming the third-fastest woman in the event ever when she clocked 2:08.16 to win by more than two seconds from Romanian-born world champion Roxana Maracineanu of France.
Bennett, who won the 400m metres freestyle on Sunday, also celebrated a golden Sydney double when she retained her 800m freestyle title ahead of Ukraine's Yana Klochkova, winner of the Olympic 200m and 400m individual medleys.
De Bruijn, who has also won two Olympic titles this week, broke her third world record in six days when she clocked 24.13 in the 50m freestyle semi-finals to beat the mark of 24.39 she set in Rio de Janeiro on June 10 this year.
The 27-year-old Dutchwoman had won her morning heat in 24.46, eclipsing the 24.79 Olympic record established by China's Yang Wenyi at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
De Bruijn broke her own world record in Sunday's 100m butterfly final and accomplished a similar feat in the semi-finals of the 100m freestyle on her way to winning Thursday's final.
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