Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - Page 18 News List

LONDON 2012 OLYMPICS: Hansen returns to Olympics in style

COMEBACK:Brendan Hansen of the US was one of the world’s major contenders in the breaststroke, but failed to earn golds in the Athens or Beijing Olympics


Brendan Hansen swims in the men’s 100m breaststroke final during the US Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Brendan Hansen capped his comeback by earning another trip to the Olympics, winning the 100m breaststroke at the US swimming trials.

The 30-year-old Hansen, who retired from the sport after the Beijing Games, rallied over the final lap for a time of 59.68 seconds, giving him a chance to make up for the disappointment of the past two Olympics.

“No one would ever expect me to do something like that,” he said. “I’m not a flashy guy ... I don’t have eight gold medals [like Michael Phelps],” Hansen said.

Hansen was one of the world’s top breaststrokers leading up to both Athens and Beijing, but has yet to win an individual gold. He will get a third chance in London.

Eric Shanteau is also heading back to the Olympics. Four years ago, he made the team shortly after being diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Shanteau was fourth at the turn, but he turned on the speed heading for the wall and got second in 1 minute, 0.15 seconds.

Hansen was not the only swimmer to use the second night of the trials as redemption for Olympic disappointment. Dana Vollmer, a gold medalist as a teenager in 2004, missed out on the team four years ago while battling injuries and health problems. She got off to a blistering start on Tuesday and soared through the water to easily win the 100m butterfly.

There was another memorable race between Ryan Lochte and Phelps, but there is a bigger showdown to come. One night after Lochte beat Phelps in the 400m individual medley, Lochte edged him out again in the semi-finals of the 200m freestyle.

The final was to be swum yesterday and is shaping up as another classic between the world’s two greatest swimmers.

“Oh, that was the semi-finals. It doesn’t really matter,” Lochte said. “It doesn’t matter until the finals. We’re great racers, we just want to win. We definitely kicked it in gear the last 50, me and him. We know tomorrow night is going to be a lot faster.”

Phelps said: “It’s going to be a tough race.”

Lochte also has a strong morning swim in the 100m backstroke, posting the second-fastest time behind Matt Grevers. However, the laid-back Floridian does not want anything to take away from his next race with Phelps, so he dropped out of the back before the semi-finals.

“That actually felt pretty good,” Lochte said. “I know I have a lot left, so we’ll see what happens.”

Also claiming a spot on the Olympic team was Allison Schmitt, who got off to a huge lead in the 400m free right from the blocks and held on to win in 4:02.84. Chloe Sutton earned the second spot in 4:04.18.

Seventeen-year-old Missy Franklin was the top qualifier in the semi-finals of the 100m backstroke, putting up a time (59.06 seconds) that was less than a second off Gemma Spofforth’s world record. Teenagers claimed the next three fastest times, as well: 18-year-old Rachel Bootsma, 17-year-old Olivia Smoliga and 18-year-old Elizabeth Pelton.

“I love where I’m at right now,” said Franklin, the breakout star at last year’s world championships and one of the top US hopes for London. “I feel strong, I feel powerful. It’s so awesome to feel this way and I’m having a blast. This is what I came here to do.”

Natalie Coughlin, who won gold in the 100m back at the past two Olympics, had a rough night. After coming up short in the 100m fly, she barely qualified for the final of her signature event with the seventh-fastest time (1:00.63). She is looking to get to London so she can take a shot at Jenny Thompson’s record for most decorated US female swimmer, having won 11 medals at the past two Olympics.

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