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France wins bronze; gold breaks world record

Latest update : 2008-08-17

France's Hugues Duboscq won bronze in the men's 100m breaststroke, with Japan's Kosuke Kitajima winning gold and breaking the world record. Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry also broke the record in the women's 100m backstroke.

 

 

Japan's Kosuke Kitajima and Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry set new swimming world records on Monday during another electrifying session in the Water Cube.

 

And that was all before the headline act, Michael Phelps, had stepped into the Beijing pool seeking a second gold in his quest for an unprecedented eight during a single Olympics.

 

Kitajima, the most decorated Asian swimmer of all time, broke the world best by 0.22 seconds to take gold in the men's 100 metre breaststroke in front of another capacity crowd at Beijing's shimmering and futuristic swimming venue.

 

Swimming fans were also on their feet when Coventry shaved 0.20 seconds off the world record for women's 100 metres backstroke during her semi-final.

 

Affectionally called "a golden girl" by President Robert Mugabe despite his normally tough view of minority whites, Coventry had vowed to try and show her nation in a positive light despite its well-known economic and political woes.

 

Australia's Libby Trickett was told by coaches to do what every woman hates -- build up her backside -- before Beijing due to a weakness in gluteal muscles. But it paid off when she won gold in the women's 100 metres butterfly.

 

Next up is Phelps, who needs a little help from his friends in the men's 100m freestyle relay to secure a second gold.

 

The lanky 23-year-old American, who listens to hip-hop before swimming, destroyed his own world record to win a first gold on Sunday, the 400m individual medley.

 

Though looking in fantastic form, Phelps still faces a punishing schedule of heats and finals to beat Mark Spitz's 1972 record of seven golds in a single Games.

 

Phelps skipped Sunday's 100m freestyle relay heat in which his team mates set a new world record.

 

The U.S. team will be pushed hard by France, which qualified just 0.13 seconds behind them, with the final being the second of three races Phelps faces on Monday.

 

British diving prodigy Tom Daley needs an upset to steal the limelight from the record-makers before him on Monday.

 

The 14-year-old's cheery grin and diving prowess have made him a media sensation at the Beijing Games and back home in Britain. But he faces a tough task to win a medal in the 10m synchronised platform competition with partner Blake Aldridge.

 

"I can't wait, I just want to go out and have fun," he said ahead of the competition, playing down his chances of a medal.

 

Daley is the second youngest Briton to compete in the Olympics and modestly insists his real goal is to prepare well for the 2012 Games in London. A 13-year-old swimmer from the Seychelles is the only younger competitor in Beijing.

 

Daley is just 1.56m (5ft 1in) and 47kg (104lb), a featherweight beside other platform divers and Aldridge, 26, whose previous partner died in a hit-and-run incident last year.

 

THE HEAT IS OFF

 

Thunderstorms have cleared away Beijing's notorious smog and temperatures have dropped, easing athletes' health fears over pollution and summer heat.

 

A third of cyclists dropped out of the men's road race on Saturday saying the suffocating and dirty air had exhausted them.

 

But on Sunday, the women cyclists faced cold, slippery conditions as they raced between Beijing's Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China.

 

The rain caused havoc with rowing and tennis schedules on Sunday, delaying the appearance of big names like Roger Federer.

 

Another 13 golds are to be awarded on Monday, with China hoping to add to the six it has already won, giving it an early lead in the overall medals table.

 

China came second to the United States in Athens 2004 and wants to go one better this time. That would underline the message of growing economic might China is hoping to project by hosting a spectacular, no-expense-spared Games.

 

Chinese national pride has swelled with a jaw-droppingly lavish opening ceremony and early sporting triumphs. That has pushed into the background pre-Games criticism of its human rights record and stifling of anti-government dissent. An ugly stabbing murder of a U.S. tourist in broad daylight and attention-seeking separatist violence in distant Xinjiang have left China and the Games relatively unperturbed. But home team hopes were dashed in the highly anticipated match-up between China and the millionaire NBA stars of the United States on Sunday night.

 

The totemic Yao Ming, flag carrier for China at the opening ceremony, could not protect colleagues from the speed and power of the Americans, who won 101-70 in what was billed as the most watched basketball game in history.

 

"The last time I had five dunks in a game I was 17," said Kobe Bryant, who was sportingly cheered by Chinese fans on his way to 18 points for the United States. "That's all because of the energy of this crowd."

Date created : 2008-08-11

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