Thu, Jul 28, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Phelps gets gold; Pellegrini gets sweep

BACK IN BUSINESS:The 14-time Olympic champion finally got his first gold at this year’s championships and is set to duel with Ryan Lochte again in the 200 individual medley

AP, SHANGHAI

Michael Phelps of the US competes in the men’s 200m butterfly final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

There was no stopping Michael Phelps this time — and Federica Pellegrini still can’t be stopped.

Having failed to win his opening two events at the world championships, Phelps finally got gold in the 200m butterfly yesterday. In the next event, Italy’s Pellegrini won the 200m freestyle to become the first woman to sweep the 200m and 400m at consecutive worlds.

It was Phelps’ fifth world title in the 200m fly — and nobody else has more than two. He’s also won the event at the last two Olympics.

“That’s sort of been my bread and butter event,” Phelps said.

Australian great Ian Thorpe, who recorded the 200m/400m double in 2001 and 2003, is the only other swimmer besides Pellegrini to achieve the sweep.

“You’ve just got to always believe in yourself. It’s great to be a part of history,” said Pellegrini, who is also the Olympic champion in the 200m freestyle. “This was my race and nobody was going to enter my house.”

The loudest cheers of the night at the Oriental Sports Center were reserved for local favorite Sun Yang of China, who won a grueling 800m freestyle — a non-Olympic event. Ryan Cochrane of Canada took silver and Gergo Kis of Hungary got bronze.

In another non-Olympic race, Brazil’s Felipe Silva beat Italy’s Fabio Scozzoli in the 50m breaststroke, with defending champion Cameron van der Burgh of South Africa finishing third.

Phelps let his lead slip on the final turn, but then overtook Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda early in the last lap to clock 1 minute, 53.34 seconds, hardly celebrating. Matsuda took the silver in 1:54.01 and Wu Peng of China got the bronze in 1:54.67.

Phelps led off the 4x100m relay when the US took bronze on the opening night of the competition on Sunday, then settled for silver behind teammate Ryan Lochte in the 200m free on Tuesday.

A 14-time Olympic champion, Phelps now has a record 23 golds at the worlds.

“I felt like myself the last 100 of that race. I didn’t feel like I was dying,” Phelps said.

“I wanted to do what I usually do when I’m in better shape,” Phelps added. “I wanted to step on it from the get-go. I saw the other swimmers at the 150 and I put my hips into it. I know there’s a lot more I can do in that race.”

Phelps had a streak of 60 consecutive wins in the event covering nearly nine years until he lost consecutive races to Wu at two minor meets in the US earlier this year.

Pellegrini has also had a trying two years, following the death of her coach Alberto Castagnetti after the 2009 worlds in Rome.

Still, she dominated the 400m on Sunday with a second-half burst of speed. This time, Pellegrini methodically reeled in her rivals, moving steadily up from seventh after 50m to fifth at the halfway mark and third heading into the final lap to touch in 1:55.58.

Kylie Palmer of Australia won the silver in 1:56.04 and Camille Muffat of France took the bronze in 1:56.10.

Pellegrini celebrated by propping herself up on a lane rope, then raised her arms and stuck her tongue out, before revealing a wide smile.

“We saw yesterday that there were a few opponents capable of competing well, but we studied the race and Federica did everything we planned,” said the Italian’s new coach, Frenchman Philippe Lucas.

James Magnussen, who led off Australia’s victorious 400m free relay four days ago, was fastest in the 100m free semi-finals in 47.90. US sprinter Nathan Adrian qualified second and William Meynard of France was third.

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