Van den Hoogenband shocks Thorpe
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The Flying Dutchman stunned Thorpedo -- and an entire nation.
With millions of swimming-crazed Aussies watching on television and thousands cheering in person, Pieter van den Hoogenband upset Ian Thorpe in the 200-meter freestyle Monday, winning Olympic gold and tying his own world record in 1 minute, 45.35 seconds.
Thorpe was denied a third gold medal and settled for silver 24 hours after Van den Hoogenband broke Thorpe's world record in the semifinals. Thorpe finished in 1:45.83. Massimiliano Rosolino of Italy took bronze in 1:46.65.
American Josh Davis was fourth in 1:46.73.
Van den Hoogenband and Thorpe were even at the 150-meter mark until the Dutchman began pulling away in the middle of the pool.
Van den Hoogenband erased Thorpe's world record with a 1:45.35 in Sunday's semifinals. Thorpe swam the next heat and missed taking the record back by two one-hundreths of a second.
The man nicknamed "Hoogie" just missed medals in the 100 and 200 freestyles when he finished fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Van den Hoogenband established his reputation as a giant killer last year by beating Olympic champion Alexander Popov of Russia in the 50 and 100 freestyles at the European championships.
At 150 meters, cheers of "Thorpey, Thorpey" reverberated throughout the Sydney International Aquatic Center. After the race, the fans cheered for Van den Hoogenband before quieting.
Van den Hoogenband covered his face with his hands before climbing out of the pool and blowing kisses to the crowd.
Venue volunteers and workers had jammed every available nook to catch a glimpe of the most highly anticipated individual showdown so far at the Olympic pool.
Thorpe's time was nearly a half-second slower than his semifinal effort. He ducked into Van den Hoogenband's lane to congratulate his conquerer.
Perhaps the weight of a nation took its toll on the 17-year-old, who earned gold in the 400 free and then returned to anchor the Aussies to an emotional and narrow victory over the United States in the 400 free relay Saturday.
Diana Mocanu became the first Romanian swimmer to win a gold medal, taking the 100 backstroke in an Olympic record 1:00.21. Mocanu, who was third at 50 meters, won Romania's first swimming medal since 1988. She broke the old mark of 1:00.68 set by Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary at the 1992 Olympics.
Mai Nakamura earned silver in 1:00.55, giving Japan its first backstroke medal since 1960. Nina Zhivanevskaya of Spain took bronze in 1:00.89. B.J. Bedford of Etna, N.H., was sixth in 1:01.47.