Italy applauds its heroes, Phelps crushed by Biedermann

July 29th, 2009 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Michael Phelps Rome, July 29 (DPA) Italian swimming fans applauded two swimming heroes at the world championships after Alessia Filippi won gold in the women’s 1,500m freestyle and Federica Pellegrini smashed her own women’s 200m freestyle world record in the semi-finals.
There was also a rare defeat for American superstar Michael Phelps, who was crushed by German Paul Biedermann in the final of the men’s 200m freestyle race here Tuesday.

Filippi received a standing ovation after winning the 1,500, while Pellegrini sat on the lane dividers soaking in the fans’ applause after taking her own 200m freestyle record to one minute 53.67 seconds, beating her previous time of 1:54.47.

American Dana Vollmer had the second-fastest time in the semi- finals, followed by Briton’s Joanne Jackson.

In the first race of the evening, Phelps was convincingly beaten by Biedermann, who broke the American’s world record in the process.

The 22-year-old Biedermann, who Sunday broke the world record in winning the 400m freestyle, posted a time of 1:42.00, shaving nearly a second off Phelps’ world record that stood at 1:42.92. Phelps swam a 1:43.22 in the final for the silver medal.

Biedermann said he was fighting back the pain. “But I am overjoyed. It was a really great race. I knew that Michael took a lot from me on the change-overs, that is why my only chance was to beat him swimming and I managed to do that.”

The bronze medal went to Russian Danila Izotov, who finished 1:43.90.

Phelps, whose last defeat in a major championship dates back five years, said that he was not too disappointed.

“Theoretically that was a pretty good swim for me based on my best times after having taken six months off.

“I mean I am not happy but I know I did not train much this year, but for right now I will take it. But I am not very pleased.”

Phelps bounced back in the semi-finals of the men’s 200m butterfly, when he qualified for the semi-finals with the second-fastest time.

Phelps’ 1:53.35 was .13 seconds slower than Japan’s Takeshi Matsuda.

In the second final of the session Briton Gemma Spofforth broke the world record in the women’s 100m backstroke, when she took the gold medal in a time of 58.12 seconds.

Russian Anastasia Zueva won the silver medal in a time of 58.18, while Australian Emily Seebohm was the bronze medal winner in 58.88.

Filippi was a popular winner in the women’s 1,500m freestyle as she came from behind to give Italy the gold medal in a championship record time of 15:44.93.

Denmark’s Lotte Friis, who looked on world record course for the first 600m and led for the first 1,000m, finished second, in a time of 15:46.30, while Romanian Camelia Alina Potec won the bronze in 15:55.63.

At the end of her swim Filippi took a bow as the crowd gave her a standing ovation while they were chanting her first name.

Junya Koga broke the championship record in winning the men’s 100m backstroke gold medal. The Japanese finished in a time of 52.26 seconds, beating his own record by .13 secs.

Germany’s Helge Meeuw took the silver medal in 52.54, while the bronze medal went to Spain’s Aschwin Wildeboer, who was just one tenth behind Meeuw.

Meeuw said that like the rest of the team, he had taken inspiration from Biedermann’s fantastic performances. “It is very important to have somebody like Paul in the team. His victory gave us strength and created a fantastic feeling in the team.

It is very important that we have two swimmers like Britta Steffen and Paul Biedermann to lead the others. We look up to them and we want to emulate their success.”

In the last final of the evening American world record holder Rebecca Soni comfortably won the women’s 100m breaststroke in a time of 1:04.93, just nine hundredth off her world record.

Russian Yuliya Efimova took silver in 1:05.41, while American Kasey Carlson won the bronze medal in 1:05.75.

Soni said it was an amazing race. “My life has changed a bit since the Olympics. Swimming-wise it has been a change, but I have just enjoyed coming to Rome and swimming here.

“A lot of people were surprised at our team, but it is all coming together.”

South African Cameron Van den Burgh, who Monday won a bronze medal in the men’s 100m breaststroke, managed to break Felipe Franca da Silva’s world record in the men’s 50m breaststroke semi-finals.

Van den Burgh had a time of 26.74, beating the Brazilian’s time of 26.89 by. 15 seconds.

Da Silva finished with the third-best time of 26.92, while Germany’s Hendrik Feldwehr had the second-fastest time in 26.83.

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