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Dolan breaks own world mark in 400 IM


By BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer September 17, 2000

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- American Tom Dolan broke his own six-year-old world record in the 400-meter individual medley Sunday, winning his second consecutive Olympic gold in the event with a dominating performance.

Dolan had the Australian crowd of 17,500 on its feet as he won in 4 minutes, 11.76 seconds, lowering his old mark of 4:12.30 set at the 1994 world championships in Rome.

``It was a tough swim,'' he said. ``I was feeling it coming home, but I knew if I got out ahead no one could beat me.''

Dolan's mark was the eighth world record in two days of swimming competition at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre.

Erik Vendt of North Easton, Mass., held on for silver in 4:14.23. Curtis Myden of Canada won bronze in 4:15.33.

``At 200 (meters), I saw how far ahead Tom was,'' said Vendt, who peeked at Dolan from Lane 2. ``I knew it was going to be a world record.''

An intense Dolan slapped the water and raised his arms in victory. He made his way over three lanes to Vendt and they slapped hands. Dolan, of Arlington, Va., then sat on the lane marker and yelled while urging on the raucous crowd.

``I apologize for that, but there was so much emotion,'' said Dolan, who was determined to make up for the Americans' narrow loss to the Australians in the 400 free relay Saturday.

``That was a big win for them. We know how serious they're taking it,'' Dolan said. ``To be able to go 1-2 back-to-back was a huge boost for us.''

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.

``I've been struggling a while with my breathing,'' he said. ``But for me, it's all about guts at the end. That's what was able to pull me through.''

Dolan and Vendt pulled off the second gold-silver double of the night by the United States.

Brooke Bennett and Diana Munz extended the United States' distance swimming legacy by winning gold and silver in the 400 freestyle.

Bennett, of Plant City, Fla., led all the way while being pressed by Claudia Poll of Costa Rica to win in 4 minutes, 05.80 seconds, giving the United States its first gold in the event since Janet Evans won in 1988.

``I noticed I was pulling away from the field and I was just trying to maintain it,'' said Bennett, the defending Olympic 800 free champion who failed to earn an Olympic berth in the 400 free in 1996.

``I wanted it so bad. All I could think about was missing out in '96 and how much I wanted to be in the 400 and the 800 at the Olympics,'' she said. ``I feel so good, I can't wait for the 800.''

Munz, an 18-year-old from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was fourth most of the way before overtaking Poll and Janelle Atkinson of Jamaica in the final 100 meters to finish second in 4:07.07.

``It's who wants it the most in the last 100,'' Munz said. ``The last 100 is usually my strongest.''

An amazed Bennett clapped her hand to her mouth and sobbed uncontrollably. Munz swam over and the two shared a joyous embrace.

Poll took bronze in 4:07.83.

Bennett and Munz gave the Americans a boost after Jenny Thompson's debacle in the 100 fly. Inge de Bruijn of the Netherlands won the gold, 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.

``I feel like a gold butterfly tonight,'' said De Bruijn, who is a threat for two more golds. ``My games are already a success. There's nothing that can happen now to ruin them.''

She got the best of Thompson, who was second at 50 meters but faded to fifth. Thompson is down to one last chance at a coveted individual Olympic gold -- the only medal color lacking in her illustrious career.

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

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

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.''

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 Wednesday. She won her sixth relay gold Saturday, anchoring the U.S. 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.

Domenico Fioravanti won Italy's first-ever Olympic gold in the 100 breaststroke, setting an Olympic record of 1:00.46.

Ed Moses, a 20-year-old from Burke, Va., 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 medalist 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.''

American Josh Davis of San Antonio, Texas, qualified fourth in 1:47.06. Scott Goldblatt of Scotch Plains, N.J., failed to make Monday's eight-man final.

World record holder Lenny Krayzelburg of Studio City, Calif., 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-quickest in 54.52, followed by countryman Josh Watson in 54.93. Neil Walker of Verona, Wis., qualified fifth.

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.

Megan Quann, a 17-year-old from Puyallup, Wash., was third quickest in 1:07.79.

Diana Mocanu of Romania led all qualifiers for Monday's eight-woman 100 backstroke final. Mocanu swam 1:00.70 in the semifinals. B.J. Bedford of Etna, N.H., qualified fifth in 1:01.61.

-- (hmm@hmm.hmm), September 17, 2000


I prefer the breast stroke.

-- (, September 17, 2000.

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