The Terminator gets his act together

THE third sequel of the Terminator has been a raging hit the world over for a couple of months now, just as its earlier two versions had proved to be.

THE third sequel of the Terminator has been a raging hit the world over for a couple of months now, just as its earlier two versions had proved to be. But over the third week of July, if the local populace in and around Barcelona generally seemed to dump the latest Arnold Schwarzenegger starrer and instead preferred to flock behind a young American swimmer named Michael Phelps at the make-shift Palau St. Jordi pool, they need to be forgiven.

American Michael Phelps, the star of the meet, exults after setting the first of his five records. — Pic. AL BELLO/GETTY IMAGES-

For simply, the sensational show uncorked by swimming's own version of The Terminator at the 10th FINA World championships was just as slick and awe-inspiring as the Warner Brothers release. Or else, ask the Aussies who got reduced to tatters by the string of outstanding performances unleashed by their 18-year-old nemesis. No matter that the team from Down Under boasted of the peerless Ian Thorpe or the Russian campaign at the premier event was led by the one and only Alexander Popov.

True, that both Thorpe and Popov did have a reasonably good outing in Barcelona. But then, not to the extent enjoyed by their young Baltimore rival who accounted for an amazing five world records and in the process also helped the United States to re-emerge as the lead nation in the world of swimming. Phelps' fellow-Americans could not have asked for more, particularly as they had been left behind thoroughly outwitted by a Thorpedo-inspired Aussie squad in Fukuoka two years ago.

Yet, Phelps proved to be only human — even as he surpassed the great Mark Spitz for most world records set in individual events at a single championship (1972 Munich Olympics) — his defeat at the hands of compatriot Ian Crocker in the 100m butterfly final being a prime example. But that apart, Phelps was virtually unstoppable before he emerged with a haul of three individual golds and a silver in the 800m freestyle relay. Naturally, he was also the obvious choice for the Best Swimmer award at the end of the meeting which had attracted a record number of 2015 entrants from 157 nations.

Ian Thorpe makes his way out of the pool after winning the men's 400m freestyle.— Pic. SHAUN BOTTERILL/GETTY IMAGES-

Having posted the best times for the year in the 100m fly and both the individual medley events prior to the Barcelona meet, Phelps indeed was always considered a favourite to win all his pet events. But what proved to be icing on the cake was his ability to take the heavy workload without being carried away by his own fine run and the spate of records it produced. Significant among the wins was the one he carved out in the 200m individual medley, leaving the great Ian Thorpe trailing more than 3.5 seconds in his wake, an eternity as far as this event is concerned.

That Phelps meant business was evident right from the start of the championships, blazing his way to rewrite his own world record in the semis of the 200m fly (1:53.93) and then winning the event hands down ahead of Takashi Yamamoto (Japan) and compatriot and former world-record holder Tom Malchow. What followed was equally sensational, as the lanky swimmer reduced Jani Sievinen's world record in the 200m individual medley to a thing of the past and then proceeded to win the event at the expense of Thorpe and reigning Olympic champion Rosolino Massimiliano (Italy) with a second world record effort of 1:56.04 — almost one and a half second faster than his day old previous best.

And again, that such an astonishing feat was achieved exactly an hour after Phelps had wrested the 100m fly world record from Russia's Andriy Serdinov — who improved upon Michael Klim's record of 51.81 in the first semifinal — was what had the world at the feet of this genial American. Poor Serdinov had only a few moments to celebrate his record (51.76) before Phelps came up with his extraordinary feat of 51.47 and robbed him of the world record. Phelps, in the final on the next day, was again to break his record by 37/100ths of a second and even then could only win the silver being pipped by team-mate Crocker who came up with a more fascinating effort of 50.98 to make up for his defeat at the hands of Matt Welsh in the 50m fly final, a race which the Aussie won from an outside lane with a new world record (23.43) to boot.

Ian Crocker displays his gold medal after the 100m butterfly race. Crocker also set a world record in the event. — Pic. REUTERS-

This surprise loss of what had all along been counted as a certain gold for Phelps, however, did not have any impact on the American as he fought back weariness to win the 400m individual medley by improving upon his own world record of 4:11.09 by exactly two seconds on the final day. It had been a tiring campaign for this youngster but nevertheless a quite rewarding one which in all likelihood should now help him focus on attacking the long standing record of seven golds, won by Mark Spitz in Munich, at the Summer Olympics in Athens next year.

The one swimmer on whom the world had betted as good enough to overhaul the record of Mark Spitz, for the better part of the last two years especially after his six-gold haul in Fukuoka, sadly was not his usual self in Barcelona. Thorpe still was able to finish with a tally of three golds, a silver and a bronze even if he was unable to match his own reputation of breaking world records in each and every major meet. However, he did create one by winning the 400m free gold with ease and emerged as the first swimmer to win a world title of the same event thrice in a row. And then, he was also the winner over Sydney hero Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 200m free for a second time in the Worlds before anchoring the Aussie squad to an effortless triumph in the 4 x 200m relay.

Thorpe's team-mate, Grant Hackett too had a double against his name, expectedly winning the 800m and 1500m free golds, the latter title for a third consecutive time. But what proved to be the surprise in the other freestyle events was the Phoenix-like resurgence of Popov, who reclaimed the 50m and 100m titles and then led Russia to victory in the 400m relay. While, the 32-year-old was always expected to hurtle to an easy win in the 50m, what left everybody astounded was the determined and elegant effort with which Popov took the 100m gold away from Hoogenband.

Kosuke Kitajima of Japan established a new record in the men's 100m breaststroke. — Pic. ADAM PRETTY/GETTY IMAGES-

In backstroke, Aaron Peirsol (United States) was unbeaten in the 100m and 200m, but German Thomas Rupprath also did catch the eye as he took the 50m gold by shaving off 19/100th of a second of Lenny Krayzelburg's world record of 24.99. Peirsol besides his individual double also was part of the American squad (along with Brendan Hansen, Crocker and Jason Lezak) which posted a new world record (3:31.54) in the 400m medley relay on the final day.

It would, of course, remain a subject of debate on how the Japanese hero, Kitajima Kosuke, would have fared in the presence of his two injured Russian adversaries, Roman Sloudnov (the first swimmer to go under 1 minute in the 100m breast) and Dmitri Komornikov (who in June had robbed Kosuke's 200m world record set in Busan last year) in Barcelona. But left to himself, the 21-year-old seemed unconcerned and was a picture of great confidence as he cracked the world record in the 100m (down to 59.78 from Sloudnov's best of 59.94) and then got back his 200m world mark, lowering the previous record twice, before completing a grand double. James Gibson's gold in the 50m marked the end of a long drought for Great Britain since David Wilkie earned the 100m and 200m breast double in 1975.

Russian Alexander Popov waves from the podium, having won the men's 100m freestyle. He had won the 50m too. — Pic. AFP-

The competitions in the women's section clearly lacked the rush for world records as seen in the men's division, but this was somewhat made up by German Hannah Stockbauer who finished with a golden treble, by stamping her supremacy over her rivals in the three distance races of the freestyle events. The 21-year-old German, though unable to come anywhere near the three world marks owned by the American great Janet Evans since 1988, still pleased as she splashed her way to triumphs in the 400m, 800m and the 1500m, the last named event with a nine-second victory margin over her nearest rival.

Marie-Hanna Seppala did Finland proud by becoming the first woman swimmer to win a gold at the world championships as she held on to a late rally from Jodie Henry (Australia) and the veteran American Jenny Thompson, now on a comeback trail, in the 100m free final. The 200m free also witnessed a surprise when Alena Popchenko (Belarus) left her better-known rival, Martina Moravcova (Slovakia) behind at the second spot even as Inge de Bruijn kept her reputation intact in the 50m free.

Grant Hackett (centre), who won the 1,500m freestyle, on the podium with Igor Chervynskiy and Erik Vendt . — Pic. ADAM PRETTY/GETTY IMAGES-

The Dutch swimmer, who had such a glorious outing in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, also collected another piece of the yellow metal by pushing back the challenge from Thompson and world-record holder Anna-Karin Kammerling in the 50m fly. Thompson, who has decided to take a break from studies to concentrate on her preparation for the next year's Olympics, added another gold to her already rich collection by winning the 100m fly while Otylia Jedrejczak (Poland) expectedly took home the 200m title, though outside her own world mark of 2:05.78.

China's Luo Xuejuan, like Stockbauer, too had a three-gold haul after winning the 50m and 100m breaststroke titles and then leading her home country to victory in the 400m medley relay. But among all the three golds that she collected, it should be her triumph in the 100m which should have given Xuejuan utmost satisfaction simply because it had come at the expense of Amanda Beard (the American who had earlier won the 200m title by posting a new world record) and the pre-race favourite, Leisel Jones (Australia) who had removed Penelope Heyns' 1999-mark of 1:06.52 with a 1:06.37 effort in the semis.

Hannah Stockbauer of Germany reacts after winning the women's 800m freestyle. She splashed her way to victory in the 400m and 1500m races also to record a treble. — Pic. AP-

And then finally, the meet also saw Yana Klochkova (Ukraine) extend her reign at the top with yet another golden double in the two individual medley events while the three backstroke golds were shared by Spain's Nina Zhivanevskaya (50m), Germany's Antje Buschschulte (100m) and Great Britain's Katy Sexton (200m). It was the first major gold for a British woman since Anita Lonsbrough's 200m breaststroke title in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Besides, the good number of world records, including the two in the women's section, the meet also witnessed as many as 36 championship records being lowered and 60 continental records being bettered. But then, it is only likely that the meet would be best remembered for the accomplishments of one man — Michael Phelps: The Terminator!

The results: Men:

Freestyle: 50m: 1. Alexander Popov (Rus), 21.92, 2. Mark Foster (Gbr), 22.20, 3. Pieter van den Hoogenband (Hol), 22.29. 100m: 1. Alexander Popov (Rus), 48.42, 2. Pieter van den Hoogenband (Hol), 48.66, 3. Ian Thorpe (Aus), 48.77. 200m: 1. Ian Thorpe (Aus), 1:45.14, 2. Pieter van den Hoogenband (Hol), 1:46.43, 3. Grant Hackett (Aus), 1:46.85. 400m: 1. Ian Thorpe (Aus), 3:42.58, 2. Grant Hackett (Aus), 3:45.17, 3. Dragos Coman (Rom), 3:46.87. 800m: 1. Grant Hackett (Aus), 7:43.82, 2. Larsen Jensen (US), 7:48.09, 3. Igor Chervynskiy (Ukr), 7:53.15. 1500m: 1. Grant Hackett (Aus), 14:43.14, 2. Igor Chervynskiy (Ukr), 15:01.04, 3. Erik Vendt (US), 15:01.28.

Back: 50m: 1. Thomas Rupprath (Ger), 24.80, 2. Matt Welsh (Aus), 25.01, 3. Gerhard Zandberg (RSA), 25.07. 100m: 1. Aaron Peirsol (US), 53.61, 2. Arkadi Vyatchanin (Rus) & Matt Welsh (Aus), 53.92. 200m: 1. Aaron Peirsol (US), 1:55.92, 2. Gordan Kozulj (Cro), 1:57.47, 3. Simon Dufour (Fra), 1:57.90.

Luo Xuejuan is all smiles after her three-gold haul _ the 50m and 100m breaststroke and the 400m medley relay. — Pic. AP-

Breast: 50m: 1. James Gibson (Gbr), 27.56, 2. Oleg Lisogor (Ukr), 27.74, 3. Mihaly Flaskay (Hun), 27.79. 100m: 1. Kitajima Kosuke (Jpn), 59.78, 2. Brendan Hansen (US), 1:00.21, 3. James Gibson (Gbr), 1:00.37. 200m: 1. Kitajima Kosuke (Jpn), 2:09.42, 2. Ian Edmond (Gbr), 2:10.92, 3. Brendan Hansen (US), 2:11.11.

Butterfly: 50m: 1. Matt Welsh (Aus), 23.43, 2. Ian Crocker (US), 23:62, 3. Evgeni Korotyshkin (Rus), 23.73. 100m: 1. Ian Crocker (US), 50.98, 2. Michael Phelps (US), 51.10, 3. Andriy Serdinov (Ukr), 51.59. 200m: 1. Michael Phelps (US), 1:54.35, 2. Takashi Yamamoto (Jpn), 1:55.52, 3. Tom Malchow (US), 1:55.66.

Individual medley: 200m: 1. Michael Phelps (US), 1:56.04, 2. Ian Thorpe (Aus), 1:59.66, 3. Massi Rosolino (Ita), 1:59.71. 400m: 1. Michael Phelps (US), 4:09.09, 2. Laszlo Cseh (Hun), 4:10.79, 3. Mellouli Oussama (Tun), 4:15.36.

Relays: 4 x 100m freestyle: 1. Russia (Andrei Kapralov, Ivan Usov, Denis Pimankov, Alexander Popov), 3:14.06, 2. United States (Scott Tucker, Neil Walker, Ryan Wochomurka, Jason Lezak), 3:14.80, 3. France (Romain Barnier, Julien Sicot, Fabien Gilot, Frederick Bousquet), 3:15.66. 4 x 200m freestyle: 1. Australia (Grant Hackett, Craig Stevens, Nicholas Spregner, Ian Thorpe), 7:08.58, 2. United States (Michael Phelps, Nate Dusing, Aaron Peirsol, Klete Keller), 7:10.26, 3. Germany (Johannes Oesterling, Lars Conard, Stefan Herbst, Christian Keller), 7:14.02. 4 x 100m medley: 1. United States (Aaron Peirsol, Brendan Hansen, Ian Crocker, Jason Lezak), 3:31.54, 2. Russia (Arkady Vyatchanin, Roman Ivanovski, Igor Marchenko, Alexander Popov), 3:34.72, 3. Japan (Tomomi Morita, Kitajima Kosuke, Takashi Yamamoto, Daisuke Hosokawa), 3:36.12.

Women:

Freestyle: 50m: 1. Inge de Bruijn (Hol), 24.47, 2. Alice Mills (Aus), 25.07, 3. Lisbeth Lenton (Aus), 25.08. 100m: 1. Maria-Hanna Seppala (Fin), 54.37, 2. Jodie Henry (US), 54.48, 3. Jenny Thompson (US), 54.65. 200m: 1. Alena Popchenko (Blr), 1:58.32, 2. Martina Moravcova (Svk), 1:58.44, 3. Yang Yu (Chn), 1:58.54. 400m: 1. Hannah Stockbauer (Ger), 4:06.75, 2. Eva Risztov (Hun), 4:07.24, 3. Diana Munz (US), 4:07.67. 800m: 1. Hannah Stockbauer (Ger), 8:23.66, 2. Diana Munz (US), 8:24.19, 3. Rebecca Cooke (Gbr), 8:28.45. 1500m: 1. Hannah Stockbauer (Ger), 16:00.18, 2. Hayley Peirsol (US), 16:09.64, 3. Jana Henke (Ger), 16:10.13.

Back: 50m: 1. Nina Zhivanevskaya (Esp), 28.48, 2. Ilona Hlavackova (Cze), 28.50, 3. Inada Noriko (Jpn), 28.62. 100m: 1. Antje Buschschulte (Ger), 1:00.50, 2. Louise Ornstedt (Den) & Katy Sexton (Gbr), 1:00.86. 200m: 1. Katy Sexton (Gbr), 2:08.74, 2. Margaret Hoelzer (US), 2:09.24, 3. Stanislava Komarova (Rus), 2:10.17.

Breast: 50m: 1. Luo Xuejuan (Chn), 30.67, 2. Brooke Hanson (Aus), 31.13, 3. Zoe Baker (Gbr), 31.37. 100m: 1. Luo Xuejuan (Chn), 1:06.80, 2. Amanda Beard (US), 1:07.42, 3. Laura Jones (Aus), 1:07.47. 200m: 1. Amanda Beard (US), 2:22.99, 2. Leisel Jones (Aus), 2:24.33, 3. Qi Hui (Chn), 2:25.78.

Butterfly: 50m: 1. Inge de Bruijn (Hol), 25.84, 2. Jenny Thompson (US), 26.00, 3. Anna-Karin Kammerling (Swe), 26.06. 100m: 1. Jenny Thompson (US), 57.96, 2. Otylia Jedrzejczak (Pol), 58.22, 3. Martina Moravcova (Svk), 58.24. 200m: 1. Otylia Jedrzejczak (Pol), 2:07.56, 2. Eva Risztov (Hun), 2:07.68, 3. Yuko Nakanishi (Jpn), 2:08.08.

Individual medley: 200m: 1. Yana Klochkova (Ukr), 2:10.75, 2. Alice Mills (Aus), 2:12.75, 3. Zhou Yafei (Chn), 2:12.92. 400m: 1. Yana Klochkova (Ukr), 4:36.74, 2. Eva Risztov (Hun), 4:37.39, 3. Beatrice Caslaru (Rom), 4:41.86.

Relays: 4 x 100m freestyle: 1. United States (Natalie Coughlin, 500,22,00000,2,98 Lindsay Benko, Rhiannon Jeffrey, Jenny Thompson), 3:38.09, 2. Germany (Petra Dallmann, Katrin Meibner, Antje Buschschulte, Sandra Volker), 3:38.73, 3. Australia (Lisbeth Lenton, Elka Graham, Jodie Henry, Alice Mills), 3:38.83. 4 x 200m freestyle: 1. United States (Lindsay Benko, Rachel Komisarz, Rhiannon Jeffrey, Diana Munz), 7:55.70, 2. Australia (Elka Graham, Linda Mackenzie, Kirsten Thomson, Alice Mills), 7:58.42, 3. China (Zhou Yafei, Xu Yanwei, Jaiying Pang, Yang Yu), 7:58.53. 4 x 100m medley: 1. China (Zhan Shu, Luo Xuejuan, Zhou Yafei, Yang Yu), 3.59.89, 2. United States (Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Beard, Jenny Thompson, Lindsay Benko), 4:00.83, 3. Australia (Giaan Rooney, Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper, Jodie Henry), 4:01.37.

Medals Tally Country G S B T United States 12 13 6 31 Russia 10 5 6 21 Australia 8 12 6 26 China 7 4 8 19 Germany 5 7 5 17 Japan 3 3 3 9 Holland 3 2 2 7 Great Britain 2 3 3 8 Ukraine 2 3 2 7 Italy 2 1 1 4 Canada 2 0 1 3 Hungary 1 4 1 6 Spain 1 2 3 6 Poland 1 1 0 2 France 1 0 2 3 Finland 1 0 1 2 Belarus 1 0 0 1 Czech Republic 0 2 0 2 Slovakia 0 1 1 2 Croatia 0 1 0 1 Denmark 0 1 0 1 Romania 0 0 2 2 Bulgaria 0 0 1 1 Mexico 0 0 1 1 Serbia & 0 0 1 1 Montenegro South Africa 0 0 1 1 Sweden 0 0 1 1 Tunisia 0 0 1 1 Total 62 65 59 186