Great achievement for Adlington

From Wire Services / August 11, 2008
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BEIJING - Rebecca Adlington won Great Britain's first Olympic women's swimming title in nearly a half-century with a last-gasp victory in the 400-meter freestyle final today.

Adlington, fourth at the final turn, hurtled down the last length to overhaul American Katie Hoff and clinch the gold by a 0.07 seconds in 4 minutes 3.22 seconds.

Hoff clung on to take the silver, while Joanne Jackson provided Britain with another medal when she finished third in 4:03.52.

"I'm so proud to be British. Both of us here, two Britons, on the medals podium. What else can I ask for?" said Adlington.

It was Britain's first Olympic swimming gold by a woman since Anita Lonsbrough, who watched Adlington's victory as a journalist, won the 200 breaststroke at Rome in 1960. Adrian Moorhouse was Britain's last Olympic swimming champion, winning the 100 meters breaststroke at the 1988 Seoul Games.

Hoff, who was leading at the 200-meter mark, appeared to have the race tied up as she went into the last turn more than a second ahead of the pack.

World record-holder Federica Pellegrini of Italy, fastest in the heats in an Olympic-record 4:02.19, faded to fifth.

Also at the Water Cube, Australia's Libby Trickett claimed her first individual Olympic title in the women's 100-meter butterfly, powering to the gold medal in 56.73.

"It's amazing, better than I could have ever expected," Trickett said. "It's my best time and an Olympic gold medal, that's more than I could have ever dreamed for."

American Christine Magnuson finished second in 57.10 seconds, while Australia's Jessicah Schipper was third in 57.25.

Trickett, who could win as many as five medals, won a bronze in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay. She is also entered in the 50 and 100 freestyle, where she holds both world records, as well as the medley relay.

Trickett's victory also erased the disappointment of her failure in Athens four years ago when she went into the Games as the world record-holder for the 100 freestyle but failed to make the final after her nerves got the better of her.

Japan's Kosuke Kitajima defended his 100-meter breaststroke title in a world-record time of 58.91 seconds.

Kitajima, who won the 100 and 200 golds in Athens, sliced 0.22 seconds off the world mark of 59.13 set by Brendan Hansen of Havertown, Pa., in 2006.

Alexander Dale Oen, who twice broke the Olympic record in the heats, won silver to hand Norway its first swimming medal.

France's Hugues Duboscq, the bronze medalist in Athens, again finished third, ahead of Hansen.

Hansen swam over the lane lines to reach Kitajima in the middle of the pool and congratulate his rival.

"I just kept it simple - broken English so he could understand me," he said. "You got to tip your hat off to somebody that does something like that in a pressure-packed race. That's a hell of a swim, and he is a true champion."

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