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Aussies edge Americans in scintillating relay  

The final day of racing in the dramatic Water Cube arena at the heart of the Olympic Park in Beijing generated the usual party atmosphere among the crowd as individual events gave way to the frantic action of the relays.

While the mood in the stands was buoyant, the swimmers themselves were deadly serious.

The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay final, one of the last events on the programme, was shaping up as a showdown between Australia and the United States.

The two quartets boasted an array of medallists from earlier in the competition and their semi-final heat times marked them out as the two teams to beat.

The U.S. understandably got off to a flying start when individual 100m backstroke gold medallist Natalie Coughlin led them out in confident style.

They were almost a second up on Great Britain at the first exchange, with Australia’s Emily Seebohm back in fourth but specialist breaststroke swimmer Liesel Jones was about to turn the race on its head.

Jones, who won the gold after finishing more than 1.5secs ahead of second, turned a deficit into an advantage and the Australians were in poll position at the halfway stage.

By the time Jessicah Schipper had finished her 100m butterfly, Libby Trickett had a three-metre advantage over the charging Americans and surely the silver medallist in the 100m free could coast home.

Dara Torres, a veteran of five Olympics, was having none of it. The 41-year-old, who competed in the Los Angeles Games a year before Trickett was even born, began to cut down the lead in a scintillating finish played out amid deafening crowd noise.

However Trickett had the race under control and comfortably held on as the Australians smashed the world record the same four had set at the world championships in their native Melbourne the previous year.

Their time of three minutes 52.69 was six tenths of a second faster than the Americans, who also smashed the previous best world record mark.

It was the end to an astonishingly one-sided competition for Australia, with all six of their gold medals in the pool coming from its women.


43 Highlights

  • Opening Ceremony
  • Katerina Emmons - women’s 10m air rifle
  • Salukvadze, Pederina praised for gesture
  • Dutch end long wait for relay gold
  • Korean archery domination continues
  • Aussies edge Americans in scintillating relay
  • India's first individual gold medal
  • Coughlin again thwarts fast-finishing Coventry
  • Benjamin Boukpeti
  • Rice hits golden hat-trick in 4x200m relay
  • Phelps rewrites Olympic record books
  • China wins maiden team gymnastics gold
  • Steffen completes comeback with golden double
  • Andrunache emerges from Ignat’s shadow
  • The oldest winner of the women’s table tennis singles
  • Lightning Bolt electrifies Bird’s Nest
  • Roger Federer
  • British foursome continue Redgrave’s legacy
  • Zagunis leads U.S. clean sweep in sabre
  • Guo glitters in Water Cube
  • Rafael Nadal
  • Fraser leads unique Jamaican treble
  • Rebecca Romero
  • Reborn Taylor takes second hurdles title
  • Incredible Lezak puts Phelps on road to eight golds
  • Hoy joins cycling greats
  • Liukin follows in father’s footsteps
  • Jones heartbreak evokes Devers as Harper takes gold
  • IOC’s helping hand guides Nikpai to bronze
  • Bolt overcomes Johnson’s legendary 200m mark
  • Japan rock U.S. with softball win
  • Chausson, Strombergs grab first BMX golds
  • Campbell-Brown retains 200m crown
  • Steve Hooker
  • Jamaican foursome break world record
  • Perfect Walsh, May-Treanor star on the sand
  • Hellebaut raises the bar in battle with Vlasic
  • Korea ends baseball’s Olympic era with Cuban upset
  • Hungary secure stunning water polo hat-trick
  • Party atmosphere as curtain drawn on Beijing
  • Kanayeva waltzes to rhythmic gold
  • Mighty France thwart giantkillers Iceland
  • US restores basketball pride