Thu, Jul 28, 2005 - Page 20 News List

Phelps defeats Hackett in 200m

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS Michael Phelps' time of 1

AP , MONTREAL

Michael Phelps of the US just after winning the gold medal in the 200m freestyle at the World Aquatics Championships in Montreal on Tuesday. Grant Hackett of Australia ended second in the event while Ryk Neethling of South Africa was third.

PHOTO: AP

Michael Phelps won his showdown with Grant Hackett Tuesday night, prevailing over the Australian to win the men's 200m freestyle event at swimming's World Championships.

The 20-year-old American hung on when South Africa's Ryk Neethling went out fast in the first 50m, reached the halfway point under world-record pace and had enough left to get to the wall ahead of Hackett.

Phelps' time of 1 minute, 45.20 seconds fell short of Ian Thorpe's 4-year-old record (1:44.06) but still set an American mark, set during a bronze-medal swim at the Athens Olympics last summer.

"I'm pretty happy with it," Phelps said. "I slowed up a little bit going into the third wall, but came home strong with it and finished up well."

The Americans won three of five events on the third day of swimming, giving them six golds in all. They also lead the overall medal table with 12.

Phelps' compatriot 17-year-old Kate Ziegler swam to an impressive victory in the women's 1,500m free and world record holder and Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol continued his backstroke dominance with a victory in the 100.

Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry prevented an expected US victory, beating five-time Olympic medalist Natalie Coughlin in the 100m backstroke.

Australia's Leisel Jones finally earned a long-denied victory in the 100m breaststroke, holding off 18-year-old American Jessica Hardy, who broke Jones' world record in the semifinals. Hardy settled for the silver.

Phelps had hoped to go against Hackett in the 400m free, but he failed to qualify for the final. The Australian went on to capture gold.

"I don't remember the last time I didn't make the final," Phelps said. "That was a big learning experience for me in case anything does happen like that in the future."

Phelps shared his first medal of the worlds, leading off the winning US effort in the 400m free relay.

Hackett, who'll be favored to win two more golds in the 800m and 1,500m free, added the 200m to his schedule thinking it would give him a second shot at Phelps. It turned out to be their only head-to-head meeting of the championships after the 400m.

"It would have been nicer to be a bit closer to Michael and challenge him at the end," said Hackett, who took silver in 1:46.14. "You certainly can't take away from his performance."

The bronze went to Neethling.

The 17-year-old Ziegler won the longest event in the pool in 16 minutes, 0.41 seconds -- shaving nearly 11 seconds off her previous best with the third-fastest performance in history.

Switzerland's Flavia Rigamonti took the silver and Canada's Brittany Reimer the bronze, the first by a Canadian women at a World Championships since Allison Higson in 1986, two years before Reimer was born.

Coventry used a strong finishing kick to win in 1:00.24 and beat Germany's Antje Buschschulte, who four-hundredths of a second ahead of Coughlin.

Coventry, adding to a silver medal in the 200m IM, reveled in the role of underdog to Coughlin, the only woman to break one minute in the event.

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