Rare defeat for Phelps, Coventry with Olympic record

Society Materials 10 August 2008 18:22 (UTC +04:00)

US super star Michael Phelps on Sunday suffered a rare - if inconsequential - defeat in the men's 200m freestyle heats at the Beijing Olympics, the dpa reported.

Phelps, who earlier on Sunday won the men's 400m individual medley, was beaten in his heat by Switzerland's Dominik Meichtry, who had a time of one minute 45.80 seconds, beating Phelps by .68 seconds.

Third place in the heat went to South Korean Park Tae Hwan, who earlier won the 400m freestyle. South African Jean Basson and Canadian Brent Hayden also bettered Phelps' time in their heats.

In the women's 100m backstroke Reiko Nakamura broke the Olympic record of 59.68 sec set by American Natalie Coughlin on August 21 in Athens by winning her heat in 59.36, only to see Zimbabwean Kirsty Coventry swim a flat 59 in the very next heat.

Nakamura said that she swam as she had been practising. "I was calm during the race and today's performance can be utilised for the semi-final. I have been practising to get 59 for the heat. I guess the medal will go to someone who swims 58's in the final."

There was some disappointment for the partisan Chinese crowd as Zhao Jing, who would have qualified for the semi-finals in the event, was disqualified for being under the water for too long after the start.

In the morning session US president George Bush was on hand to watch Phelps win the 400m IM in a world record time of 4:03.84, ahead of Hungarian Laszlo Cseh and his friend and compatriot Ryan Lochte.

Australian Stephanie Rice also managed to better the world mark with a 4:29.45 in the women's 400 IM, beating Coventry and American favourite Katie Hoff.

Park became the first South Korean gold medal winners when he took the 400m freestyle from Zhang Lin of China and American Larsen Jensen.

The final gold medal of the morning session went to the Dutch women's 4x100m relay, who won in an Olympic record time of 3:33.76. Dara Torres became the oldest-ever swimmer to medal as she anchored the US team to second place ahead of Australia.

It was 41-year-old Torres' tenth Olympic medal.