Work in Sports
Flying DutchmanLatest: Wednesday October 11, 2000 01:45 PM
SYDNEY, Australia (CNNSI.com) - Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband upset Australian favorite Ian Thorpe in the 200-meter freestyle Monday.
Van den Hoogenband tied this own world record in 1 minute, 45.35 seconds.
"It was amazing to do this. In his home nation, in his home city, in his home pool," Van den Hoogenband said.
Together with "gold butterfly" Inge de Bruijn, the Dutch are seeking a half-dozen more gold medals in the pool.
"Beating Thorpe is just the craziest thing. And he's not finished yet," said Dutch team leader Jan Loorbach.
Hoogie hits the water again on Tuesday in the heats of the 100 freestyle. He'll meet the man he is seeking to replace.
It is tough to find a bigger challenge than the 17-year-old Thorpe at the Olympics, but Russian Alexander Popov has been the greatest swimmer of the past decade.
Popov already won the 50 and 100 freestyle at the 1992 Barcelona and 1996 Atlanta Games. After surviving a stabbing, he is going for an unprecedented triple and Olympic immortality.
Fresh from breaking Aussies' hearts, Van den Hoogenband has more dreams to crash.
"Wow, I don't want to think about the future just now," Hoogie said, wanting to enjoy the sweet thrill of success for at least a few hours.
"I must have given him a psychological jolt with the world record," Van den Hoogenband said.
Thorpe and Hoogie chatted and laughed on the medal stand, covering everything from a joint photo session to a critical review of the movie "The Patriot."
They weren't as friendly in the pool. In a thrilling head to head, they turned for home in the same time, and then the most amazing thing happened.
When everyone expected a surge from Thorpe, it was the Flying Dutchman who made his move.
"It was so eerie," he said. "Just 25 meters and I didn't see him creeping up on me. I thought 'Man, he's not going to touch me.'"
As hard as his feet flapped through the water, Thorpe could not close the gap.
"You don't always get it your own way," said Thorpe, who won the 400 freestyle and anchored Australia's upset of the United States in the 400 freestyle relay Saturday.
Thorpe denied his country's expectations or the hype that has him on the front pages of newspapers nationwide took its toll.
"Maybe I was just a little flat from the first day, but I've got to work around it"' he said. "They're not going to change the Olympic program."
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.