De Bruijn leads records rush

2000-09-17 15:31

Sydney - Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands won Olympic gold in the 100-metre butterfly on Sunday, lowering her own world mark in a talent-laden final.

De Bruijn won in 56.61 seconds, bettering the mark of 56.64 she set in Seattle in July. She got the best of American Jenny Thompson, who was second at 50 metres but faded to fifth. Thompson is down to one last chance at a coveted individual Olympic gold - the only medal lacking in her illustrious career.

Americans won two other races, however, as the swimmers' world record-breaking spurt reached eight in two days. Domenico Fioravanti won Italy's first-ever Olympic gold in the 100 breaststroke.

In the 400-metre individual medley, American Tom Dolan broke his own six-year-old world record and won his second consecutive Olympic gold in the event. His time of 4 minutes, 11.76 seconds beat his old mark of 4:12.30 set at the 1994 world championships in Rome.

Countryman Erik Vendt held on for silver in 4:14.23. Curtis Myden of Canada won bronze in 4:15.33.

A severe asthmatic, Dolan has been bothered by a viral infection the past month. He hustled back to the athletes' village after the morning preliminaries to spend some time with an oxygen tank before the evening final.

In another American 1-2 finish, Brooke Bennett and Diana Munz won gold and silver in the 400-metre freestyle.

Bennett led all the way while being pressed by Claudia Poll of Costa Rica, and won in 4 minutes, 5.80 seconds. Munz overtook Poll and Janelle Atkinson of Jamaica in the final 100 metres to finish second in 4:07.07. Poll took bronze in 4:07.83.

Behind De Bruijn, Martina Moravcova of Slovakia won silver in 57.97 seconds. American Dara Torres, making a comeback at age 33 after seven years away from swimming, won bronze in 58.20.

De Bruijn lowered the 100 fly world mark for the third time this year, having first done so in May and again in July. In Saturday's preliminaries, she tuned up with an Olympic record.

"I was flying through the water. It felt like a trance," said De Bruijn, who cried on the awards podium. "This is what I've been working for years and now I'm standing at the top."

Torres said, "I wasn't happy with my time, but I'm coming home with an individual medal. Who would've thought a year ago I would be coming home with a medal?"

Thompson, who owns six career Olympic gold medals in relays, finished in 58.73 - well over her personal best of 57.59.

"I don't know what to say. I gave it my best effort. I really tightened up at the end," she said. "I went in with a good state of mind. I guess I wanted it too much. I just lost it, I guess."

Thompson's last chance to win her first individual gold is in the 100 free, which begins on Wednesday. She won her sixth relay gold on Saturday, anchoring the US women to a world record in the 400 free relay.

De Bruijn's meteoric rise at age 26 - she won her first major titles only a year ago - has sparked the familiar suspicions about performance-enhancing drugs.

De Bruijn, who holds the world record in three Olympic events, has brushed off the whispers, but critics wonder if she will be the Michelle Smith of the Sydney Olympics.

Smith won three golds in Atlanta, but was banned in 1998 for four years for manipulating a urine sample. Always maintaining her innocence, she lost an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport last year and then announced her retirement.

De Bruijn exulted at the wall, breaking into a huge grin and raising her arms in the air. Torres and Thompson swam over to congratulate her.

In his victory, Fioravanti set an Olympic record of 1:00.46.

Ed Moses, a 20-year-old American, won silver in 1:00.73. Roman Sloudnov of Russia took bronze in 1:00.91.

"I'm walking away with a silver and I had a chance for a gold," said Moses, who gave up golf to concentrate on swimming. "After three years of swimming, I'm pretty happy."

Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands broke Ian Thorpe's world record in the 200 free semifinals. Van den Hoogenband swam 1:45.35, lowering the mark of 1:45.51 that Australia's Thorpe set in the same pool in May.

"I was so surprised. Then again, I was so relaxed in the water," Van den Hoogenband said. "It felt amazing. Now it promises to be a great final."

Thorpe, already a double gold medallist in Sydney, swam in the second heat and missed taking back the world mark by two-hundredths of a second. He qualified second fastest in 1:45.37.

"His record didn't affect my performance," Thorpe said. "You know you're not guaranteed to be able to swim any specific times. I'm happy with how I'm going."

World record-holder Lenny Krayzelburg of the United States led all qualifiers in 54.32 seconds for the 100 backstroke. Krayzelburg didn't wear a cap and chose a traditional suit over the revolutionary full-length suit.

Australian Matthew Welsh was second-fastest in 54.52, followed by countryman Josh Watson in 54.93.

Sarah Poewe of South Africa upstaged countrywoman Penny Heyns as the fastest qualifier in the 100 breaststroke semifinals. Poewe led the way in 1:07.38, followed by Agnes Kovacs of Germany in 1:07.79.

Heyns, the defending Olympic champion, qualified fifth in 1:08.33 - well off her world record of 1:06.52 set in the Olympic pool in August 1999.

Diana Mocanu of Romania led all qualifiers for Monday's eight-woman 100 backstroke final. Mocanu swam 1:00.70 in the semifinals. - Sapa-AP