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Rediff.com  » Sports » Photos: Soni sizzles as swim records sink at the Games

Photos: Soni sizzles as swim records sink at the Games

Last updated on: August 2, 2012 00:40 IST

Soni sizzles as swim records sink at the Games

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Nathan Adrian took out the Missile by a fingertip. Daniel Gyurta and Rebecca Soni took down two more world records at the pool.

Adrian, a 23-year-old largely overshadowed by American stars such as Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, made a name for himself by winning the 100-meter Olympic freestyle Wednesday.

He lunged to the wall to edge James "The Missile" Magnussen by one-hundredth of a second — the slighest margin possible — and again deny Australia its first individual swimming gold of the London Games.

Adrian pounded the water, then put his hands over his eyes while dangling over the lane rope, as if he couldn't believe the "1'' beside his name.

Magnussen hung at the end of the pool, staring straight ahead at the wall in disbelief, the wall he got to just a fraction of a second too late.

"I had no idea, to be honest," said Adrian, whose winning time was 47.52 seconds.

"I'm a guy that has a lot of speed and I can go out fast and I die a little more than he does. It's a little nerve-racking the second 50. I just had to really focus on it and stay strong."

Gyurta set his world record in the 200 breaststroke, needing every bit of it to hold off Michael Jamieson's furious bid for Britain's first gold at the pool.

The Hungarian touched in 2 minutes, 7.28 seconds, shaving 0.03 off the previous mark set by Christian Sprenger of Australia at the 2009 world championships in a now-banned bodysuit.


Image: United States' Nathan Adrian celebrates his gold medal win in the men's 100-meter freestyle swimming final
Photographs: Matt Slocum/AP

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Superb Soni

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Soni showed plenty of speed in the women's 200 breast — and it wasn't even the final. Swimming a semifinal heat, the American touched in 2:20.00 to break yet another of the bodysuit records, a time of 2:20.12 set by Canada's Annamay Pierse at the '09 worlds, the fifth world mark to fall at the London Games and further proof it's still possible to go fast — really fast — in textile suits.

"Whoa, Rebecca just set a world record," Adrian said as he watched Soni's race on television while talking to reporters in the mixed zone. "I'm overshadowed by Rebecca setting a world record."

He should be used to that by now, swimming for a team that includes Phelps and Lochte.

But Adrian gave a glimpse of his potential in the 4x100 free relay, going faster than Magnussen on the opening leg, a stunner given the Missile had looked unbeatable at last year's worlds and set the fastest time ever in a textile suit (47.10) at the Australian trials in March.

Unfortunately for the Aussies, Magnussen hasn't been at his best when it really mattered, and these Olympics are turning into a bit of a bummer for the swimmers from Down Under.

"I just felt pretty much bullet-proof coming into this Olympics," Magnussen said. "It is very humbling."


Image: United States' Rebecca Soni reacts to her record-setting finish in the women's 200-meter breaststroke swimming semifinal
Photographs: Daniel Ochoa De Olza/AP

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US grabs relay gold

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There was even more heartache for the Aussies in the last event of the night, when Allison Schmitt chased down Alicia Coutts to give the Americans gold in the 4x200 freestyle relay.

Schmitt dived in the water about a half-second behind, but passed Coutts on their first return lap and won going away in 7:42.92. The Australians settled for another silver in 7:44.41, while France took the bronze.

Schmitt is turning into one of the biggest American stars of the games, picking up her second gold to go along with a silver and a bronze.

Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin also picked up her second gold swimming the leadoff leg, and Dana Vollmer claimed her second gold in London. Shannon Vreeland rounded out the gold medal-winning quartet.


Image: United States' Shannon Vreeland, left, and Missy Franklin, right, embrace Allison Schmitt , foreground, and Dana Vollmer, center, after they won gold in the women's 4x200-meter freestyle relay swimming final
Photographs: Daniel Ochoa De Olza/AP

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Adrian rewrites history

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Adrian came through with the race of his life, giving the U.S. its first title in swimming's signature event since Matt Biondi at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

Canada's Brent Hayden took silver in 47.80, his country's first medal ever in the furious down-and-back sprint.

"We were in the ready room and we watched it and just went nuts," Lochte said. "We were screaming and everything. That was one of the greatest finishes. We're so happy for him."


Image: United States' Nathan Adrian, left, celebrates winning ahead of Australia's James Magnussen in the men's 100-meter freestyle swimming final
Photographs: Mark J. Terrill/AP

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Gyurta sets 4th world record in Olympic swimming

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Gyurta trailed two-time defending Olympic champion Kosuke Kitajima midway through the men's breaststroke, but seized control on the third leg as the Japanese star began to fade. Making the final turn, Gyurta seemed to be in control.

Then, as he popped up and down in the water, heading for home, Gyurta suddenly felt Jamieson surging up on his right shoulder. The Olympics Aquatics Centre was in a frenzy as the two approached the wall, but Gyurta got there first.

Jamieson nearly broke the old mark, too, settling for silver in 2:07.43, while Ryo Tateishi of Japan took bronze in 2:08.29.

"I've received so many messages of support and I was desperate to get on the podium to thank everyone," Jamieson said.

Kitajima was edged for a spot on the podium by six-hundredths of a second. His countryman Tateishi slapped the water when he saw his third-place position, while Kitajima was again denied in his bid to become the first male swimmer to win the same individual race in three straight Olympics.


Image: Hungary's Daniel Gyurta competes to win gold in the men's 200-meter breaststroke swimming final at the Aquatics Centre
Photographs: Mark J. Terrill/AP

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