Published: Aug 4, 2012 10:37:45 AM Updated: Sep 2, 2012 12:05:47 PM
Australia's men's and women's medley relay teams have won two medals on the final night of pool swimming competition at the London Olympic Games.
Women's 4x100m Medley Relay:
The Australian team of Emily Seebohm, Leisel Jones, Alicia Coutts and Melanie Schlanger has won the silver medal in the women’s 4x100 metres medley relay behind the world record breaking USA.
The Australians clocked a 3:54.02 to finish 1.97 seconds behind the Americans who led from about 70 metres into the first leg. Japan was third in 3:55.73.
Australia had won the event at the last two Olympic Games, with Jones swimming the breaststroke both times, and tonight’s medal gives the four-time Olympian a personal tally of nine Olympic medals – equal with the great Ian Thorpe for most by an Australian.
Butterflyer Coutts created her won slice of history too by winning her fifth medal here in London – a haul only matched by Shane Gould in 1972 and Thorpe in 2000.
For Schlanger and Seebohm it was a third medal for the week – Schlanger in the trio of relays and Seebohm in the 100m backstroke and both 4x100m relays, albeit as a heat swimmer in the 4x100m freestyle.
In the opening backstroke leg Seebohm got onto the wall third in 59.01. Jones dropped back a place with a split of 1:06.06 before Coutts (55.42) and then Schlanger (52.54) then put in stunning legs to ensure Australia remained on the podium
Seebohm said the team was determined to send the retiring Jones out on a bright note.
“It was nice to finish the meet with a silver medal and send Leisel out in the right way,” Seebohm said.
Jones had arrived in London determined to be Australia’s top 100m breaatstroker and earn a spot in the relay.
“I’m so proud of the girls for our performance tonight,” Jones said. “It has been a very emotional week for a lot of us and to stand up and perform like that and win a silver medal is a great way to finish.
“That’s the reason I fought so hard to get into this medley relay team. I wanted to experience the feeling of swimming for Australia with three other girls and we all did a great job tonight and came away with a silver medal. This is what is important to me.”
The team was helped into the final by 18 year-old Brittany Elmslie who adds another medal – her third – to what has been a dream Olympic debut.
Men’s 4x100m Medley Relay:
Hayden Stoeckel, Christian Sprenger, Matt Targett and James Magnussen have won bronze in the men’s 4x100m medley relay – Australia’s first men’s relay medal of these Olympic Games.
The Australians finished in 3:31.58 to finish behind the USA (3:29.35) and Japan (3:31.26).
With the winners of the individual 100m backstroke, butterfly and freestyle (and the bronze medallist in the breaststroke) in their team, the Americans were always going to be very tough to beat. And so it proved. The gold medal, in his last Olympic swim, was the 18th of Michael Phelps’ remarkable career. He has 22 medals in total.
Australia was second in the same race in Beijing with Stoeckel joined by Brenton Rickard, Andrew Lauterstein and Eamon Sullivan. Sprenger and Targett swam the breaststroke and freestyle leg in the heats in Beijing too.
For Sprenger and Magnussen the medal was their second of the Games following silvers in the 100m breaststroke and freestyle events respectively. The team was assisted into the final by Rickard and Tommaso D’Orsogna who swam breaststroke and freestyle in the heats.
Tonight, Stoeckel (53.71) was fifth after his leg, a position Sprenger (59.05) consolidated before Targett, who hadn’t even qualified for London in that stroke, moved them to fourth with a strong 51.60. That left Magnussen (47.22) with some work to do but ‘the Missile’ gave it his all and moved his team into the medals.
Targett said he was so proud to be part of another medal winning relay team.
“It’s a great way to finish the week here as part of this medley relay team with such a great bunch of guys,” Targett said.
“And to be swimming against Michael Phelps in his last race ever is pretty special.”
The Australians have ended the meet with 10 medals - a gold, six silver and three bronze to finish equal third on the overall swimming medal table.
In earlier events, the Netherlands’ Ranomi Kromowidjojo (24.05, Olympic record) made it a sprint freestyle double by winning the 50m freestyle despite a horror finish.
Aliaksandra Herasimenia (24.28) of Belarus was second - the same place she filled behind Kromowidjojo in the 100m - while 33 year-old Dutchwoman Marleen Veldhuis (24.39) was third.
Chinese star Sun Yang smashed his own world record by 3.12 seconds to win the men’s 1500m freestyle title in 14:31.02. Canadian Ryan Cochrane (14:39.63) was second and the man who upset Australian icon Grant Hackett in Beijing, Tunisian Oussama Mellouli (14:40.31), won bronze. Sun had won the 400m gold and 200m silver earlier in the meet.
There was high drama before the race when Sun fell into the pool before the gun went off after someone in the crowd made a noise. The referees decided it was not a false start and he was able to take his place in the race.
Dave Lyall at the Aquatic Centre Olympics.com.au
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