- 10 Aug 2008
- Beijing 2008
Dutch end long wait for relay gold
Inge Dekker, Ranomi Kromowidjojo, Femke Heemskerk and Marleen Veldhuis fended off the advances of reigning champions Australia and favourites the United States.
The foursome had emerged into a powerful force in the event and were looking to end an unlucky run for the Dutch which had seen them just missing out on gold by taking bronze in Athens and silver in Sydney.
It was at the European championships in Eindhoven earlier in the year that they confirmed themselves as genuine gold medal contenders.
They recorded a world-record time of 3 minutes 33.62secs on their home soil in Eindhoven and the question was whether they could convert that form on the biggest stage of them all.
The quartet, minus the in-form Veldhuis, qualified fourth fastest for the final and to the delight of the home crowd it was China who recorded the fastest time.
Come the final and it was the German quartet, spearheaded by double sprint gold winner Britta Steffen, that flew out of the blocks that led after the opening 100m.
However Kromowidjojo and Heemskerk ground out a 1.5m lead by the time Veldhuis, joint 6th in the individual final, took over. The team never looked by being reeled in.
American veteran Dana Torres was tasked with anchoring for the United States, who broke their national best mark, yet it was a forlorn hope as the Dutch claimed an Olympic record of 3 minutes 33.76.
The first three swimmers roared Veldhuis on from the sidelines and looked with disbelief as the scoreboard confirmed the first Dutch win in the event since the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.