| Thorpe (with the 400m gold above) achieved a historic treble
Barcelona: Ian Thorpe achieved an historic treble and took his world gold medal tally to a record nine Sunday when he won the 400m freestyle title for the third time in a row at the world swimming championships.
The 20-year-old Australian, who had shared the record aggregate of eight golds with East German Kornelia Ender, claimed the feats in a single swim which also brought him the first gold medal in the Palau Sant Jordi pool.
Fellow Australian Grant Hackett, silver medallist behind Thorpe in 1998 and 2001, led narrowly for the first 150m as the big man in the black bodysuit bided his time to take charge.
By the halfway mark Thorpe had hit the front and in the second half he cut loose to touch two body-lengths ahead of his rival in three minutes 42.58 seconds, becoming the first swimmer to win the same individual event at three world championships.
“Tracey (coach Tracey Menzies) told me to concentrate on the ABC, and I did, and make sure I stayed in control of the race,” Thorpe said. “I’m very pleased with the result but it’s just the start of a long meet.”
Hackett, as so often in the past, had to settle for the silver, touching in 3:45.17. Dragos Coman of Romania took the bronze in 3:46.87.
Thorpe’s time was well outside the 3:40.08 world record he set at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester a year ago.
Thorpe became the youngest men’s world champion ever when he won the 400 m freestyle in Perth in 1998. He retained the title in 2001 in Fukuoka, Japan, where he won six gold medals, a record at a single world championships.
India’s teenage ‘sensation’ Rehan Poncha disappointed with a miserable finish in the 400m freestyle.
Sixteen-year old Poncha, who had created a splash in the junior nationals in New Delhi with four gold medals and by setting records, clocked 4:14.22 to finish ahead of just eight swimmers in a field of 60, according to information received in New Delhi.
Richa Mishra finished 40th in 100m butterfly qualifiers. Ambica finished seven places behind Richa. In the 4x100m freestyle relay for men, India finished 17th. (Agencies)