PARIS: Ian Thorpe bounced back from two uncharacteristically poor performances to claim a crushing 200 metres freestyle victory over Dutch arch rival Pieter Van Den Hoogenband in the FINA short-course World Cup on Saturday.
The world champion and world record holder was nearly a second-and-a-half clear of his rival when he stopped the clock at 1:41.86 to claim gold.
It was the first time the two had met since their clash at the 2001 world championships in Japan, which saw Thorpe break his rival’s world record en route to gold.
It was the perfect riposte from the 20-year-old Australian who had been soundly beaten by the Dutchman in Friday’s final of the 100 metres freestyle.
Earlier on Saturday, Thorpe had failed qualify for the final of the 50 metres freestyle when he recorded only the 18th fastest time in qualifying. But his response was as devastating as it was immediate.
The time was some way outside his short-course world record of 1:41.10 but was still far too quick for the Olympic 200m champion, Van Den Hoogenband, who came home second in 1:43.16.
The gulf in class between the two favourites and the rest of the field was made even more clear by the fact that Kvetoslav Svoboda of the Czech Republic claimed third spot nearly two seconds further back, in 1:44.96. Ukraine’s world champion, Oleg Lisogor, meanwhile, claimed the 100 metres breaststroke in 58.57 seconds. – Reuters