USA’s Phelps swims to gold No. 2; Romanian Potec dissolves German’s dreams

Michael Phelps added the 200-meter butterfly gold to his 400m individual medley title at the Athens Olympics yesterday, but was disappointed not to better his own world record in the event. «The first 50 was something that could have been better,» Phelps said. «I’m happy with the gold medal. But I really wanted the record.» Phelps was nearly half a second under his world record pace through 100m, winning in an Olympic record of 1 minute, 54.04 seconds. He might have been a touch dissatisfied, but the victory was never in doubt. Japan’s Takashi Yamamoto was second more than half a second behind in 1:54.56, while Stephen Parry earned the bronze in 1:55.52. Phelps, whose bid to match Mark Spitz’s historic 1972 haul of seven swimming gold medals has been thwarted by third place finishes in the 4x100m free relay and the 200m freestyle, had a chance for another gold later yesterday in the 4x200m free relay. But the 200m fly was where the Olympic experience began for Phelps, who was fifth in the event in Sydney when he was just 15 years old. He was still 15 when in 2001 he became the youngest man to break a world record when he set the 200m fly mark at the US championships. Yamamoto, silver medalist behind Phelps at the world championships last year in Barcelona, was third at every turn before a last-lap surge saw him take the silver in an Asian record of 1:54.56. «I really wanted to beat Michael Phelps. But he’s just too fast,» Yamamoto said. Also yesterday, Camelia Potec clinched the Olympic women’s 200-meter freestyle title with a late surge down the final length, as world recordholder Franziska van Almsick saw her dream of Olympic gold dissolve. The 22-year-old Romanian, who won the European title in Madrid in May, turned third into the last length and burst through as van Almsick failed to make the medals. Potec, fourth in Sunday’s 400-meter freestyle final, forged through in the outside lane to win in 1 minute 58.03 seconds, having entered the final as second-slowest qualifier. Sixteen-year-old Italian Federica Pellegrini, fastest qualifier from the semifinals, and Solenne Figues of France were one-two into the final turn but had to settle for silver and bronze in 1:58.22 and 1:58.45 respectively. In tennis, the world’s No. 1, Roger Federer of Switzerland, crashed out yesterday when he lost to unseeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic. Federer said after his three-set win over Nikolay Davydenko of Russia in the first round that he needed to play better but he was unable to lift his game against an opponent he had never previously met. «I’m disappointed because the Olympics mean so much to me,» said Federer. «But it wasn’t to be.» Slovakia’s Dominik Hrbaty ended Federer’s 23-match winning streak at Cincinnati a fortnight ago. (AFP, Reuters)

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