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Saturday April 12, 2008

A world record for Hardy


MANCHESTER: American swimmer Jessica Hardy smashed the world record on her way to winning gold in the women's 50m breaststroke on the second day of the world short-course Championships here on Thursday.

Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry continued her fine form by taking her second gold medal in two days, and broke her own championship record in winning the women's 100m backstroke final.

Australia powered their way to a thrilling 4x200m freestyle victory, holding off a strong challenge from Britain as another championship record fell.

Jubilant: Jessica Hardy celebrates her victory in the women’s 50m breaststroke final of the world short-course championships in Manchester on Thursday. – AFP

After Liam Tancock collected the host nation's first gold of the event in the 100m backstroke, Britan's Rebecca Adlington was on course for a world record for three quarters of the women's 800m freestyle final but slowed on the final length on her way to gold.

American Ryan Lochte held onto his 400m individual medley title, Ukranian Igor Borysik set a meet record on his way to winning the men's 100m breaststroke and Slovenian Peter Mankoc also set a championship best as he took the men's 100m butterfly title.

But there was no doubt that it was Hardy who produced Thursday's outstanding performance.

The 21-year-old, who is ranked seventh in the world and won gold in this event last year, set a new record of 29.58, beating Australian Jade Edmistone's previous record of 29.90 by a significant margin.

Her powerful display saw her finish three quarters of a second ahead of Britain's silver medalist Kate Haywood but she had not felt a world record was likely before the event.

“I wasn't expecting it,” she said. “We don't race short-course meets ever so I didn't know what to set my goals as but I'll take it.

“I've been training hard. To do that sort of time is impressive and I'm really happy.”

In the 100m backstroke, Coventry was trailing Kateryna Zubkova for most of the race due to the Ukranian's superior turns but over-powered her main competitor in the final length of the race, although Zubkova set a European record in winning the silver medal in 57.15.

At the 750m mark of the 800m freestyle final, Adlington was 0.69 seconds ahead of the world record split but fell away to finish 0.25 seconds away from the best time ever.

She insisted she was still delighted with her gold, did not realise how close she was to breaking the record and feels in great shape ahead of this summer's Olympics.

Adlington said: “I didn't have a clue I was that close and I never expected to go that quick. This is the strongest British team we've ever had and we're going to have so much fun in Beijing.”

In the 4x200m men's freestyle, Australia's Kenrick Monk, who won the 200m individual title on Wednesday, had just enough to pull clear of Great Britain's Ross Davenport for Australia to take gold.

Despite being disappointed at having to settle for silver in the men's 100m butterfly, Australia's Adam Pine also feels the Manchester event is an ideal way to get ready for the Olympics.

Pine, 32, said: “I thought I'd be quicker than that but I didn't put it together as well as I have been doing.

“I had a pretty good Olympic trials, and this is excellent training for Beijing. I had three personal bests at the trials, so it feels good.” – AFP

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