The 200 meter
breaststroke final from 2004 Athens Olympic Games
After a dramatic victory in the 100m
Breaststroke Kosuke Kitajima
was in the spotlight. The Japanese
breaststroke ace hung on for the Gold
in the 100
, despite a blatant underwater dolphin kick off both the start and the turn avoiding disqualification. This time it was up to him to prove that the renowned propulsive trick was not the sole reason for his victory in the sprint.
The competition was real. The American
breaststroke legend Brendan Hansen
was just coming off a pair of World Records
he set a month earlier at the Olympic Trials
, both of witch belonged to Kitajima. Hansen
was taking this race personally after the defeat in the 100 meter
race. After witch Kitajima unleashed a monstrous scream of celebration perhaps releasing all the previous frustration for finishing 4th in the prior Olympics
. But Hansen took the scream out personally and tried to use it as motivation prior his 200
Surprisingly the top qualifier for the finals was not Kitajima nor Hansen, but a 15 year old boy from Hungary Daniel Gyurta
. The world
first heard about the phenomenal Hungarian
2 years prior the Games
, when as a 13 year old Gyurta
swam an exceptional second half of a 200 race to finish with 2:17, a time that typically would final at any open international meet. Gyurta was from a country with an extraordinary breaststroke tradition that has been experiencing a stall for the prior 6 years.
In lane 6 was a European Champion
from just a couple of months before in the 200 Breast
, an Italian Paolo Bossini
. As a reminder, Italians
experienced a huge success in the previous Olympiad in this event. With Domenico Fioravanti
capturing first and Davide
Rumolo completing the podium for the 3d place. Whether
Bossini hoped for a gold or just making the podium we were to find out, but his exceptional endurance and Fioravanti similar stroke could certainly help him accomplish his goals.
Another extraordinary story of the meet was American Scott Usher
in lane 2. Scott
was an unknown in the World
of swimming until a year before trials when he started taking "not" baby steps towards his Olympic dream. At the Olympic trials in Irvine, Usher
finished in a disappointing 3d in the 100m, but he used that to fuel him in the 200 race. With the fastest last 50 in the field, including a World record
setting effort from Brendan Hansen, Usher blasted to the 2nd place at the Olympic trails and earned his spot on the US Olympic
team with 2:10.90. Now pacing himself into an Olympic final, Usher did not want to leave empty handed.
In lane 7 was Canadian Mike Brown
. An amazing big meet swimmer who has already earned himself a lot of respect making finals and placing top five in some of the World biggest meets. Including prior year world Championships in Barcelona and Pan Pacific Games.
A definition of a 200 swimmer, Brown
was an incredible competitor. Canada
was enjoying another star since the reign of Victor Davis
. Brown being the new Canadian 200 breast record holder.
In lane 1 was another Olympic surprise in Kazakhstan
's Vladislav Polyakov
. Polyakov was an up and coming swimmer, spending the prior 5 years training in the United States
. He was one of the only 3 swimmers besides Kitajima and Hansen who qualified for the 200 final as well. Perhaps
making the podium was on his mind.
In lane 8 was Australian Jim Piper
was an exceptional breaststroker. But for some reason he could never put together his perfect race at a big stage. Having
a 2:10 best at the time, Piper was a sure hope for the podium. He was a short course meter World Champion
, a swimmer with great experience but under a tremendous pressure.
- published: 10 Jul 2011
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