Van den Hoogenband erased Thorpe’s world record with a 1:45.35 in Sunday’s semifinals. Thorpe swam the next heat and missed taking the record back by two one-hundreths of a second.
“The most amazing thing is to beat the overwhelming favorite,” the Dutchman said. “I think I already gave him a psychological blow yesterday.”
The man nicknamed “Hoogie” just missed medals in the 100 and 200 freestyles when he finished fourth at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Van den Hoogenband established his reputation as a giant killer last year by beating Olympic champion Alexander Popov of Russia in the 50 and 100 freestyles at the European championships.
Van den Hoogenband gave a tiny nation best known for soccer and speedskating its second gold medal and world record in swimming in as many nights. On his way to the medals podium, he high-fived Inge de Bruijn, who won the women’s 100 butterfly Sunday.
Thorpe’s time was nearly a half-second slower than his semifinal effort. He ducked into Van den Hoogenband’s lane to congratulate his conquerer.
“I gave it my all in the race,” Thorpe said. “That was a great race on behalf of Pieter. It’s a real privilege to be able to swim that race.”
Perhaps the weight of a nation took its toll on the 17-year-old, who earned gold in the 400 free and then returned to anchor the Aussies to an emotional and narrow victory over the United States in the 400 free relay Saturday.
“I would like to have gone a little bit faster, but you don’t always get it your own way,” Thorpe said.
Romanian Wins Gold
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. B.J. Bedford of Etna, N.H., was sixth in 1:01.47 after being second at 50 meters.
Malchow Sets Olympic Mark
American Tom Malchow of St. Paul, Minn., broke the Olympic record for the second time in the 200 butterfly semifinals. Malchow qualified first in 1:56.02, lowering the mark he set in the morning prelims.
Michael Phelps, a 15-year-old from Baltimore who is the youngest U.S. Olympic swimmer since 1932, was fourth-quickest in 1:57.00.
Russia’s Denis Pankratov, the defending Olympic champion, grabbed the eighth and last spot in 1:57.24.
Australia’s Susie O’Neill led all qualifiers for the 200 freestyle with a semifinal time of 1:59.37.
Franziska van Almsick of Germany, the world record holder, failed to advance to Tuesday’s final. She was 11th in 2:00.26.
Americans were shut out of a final for the first time in the meet when Lindsay Benko of Elkhart, Ind., and Rada Owen of Chesterfield, Va., weren’t among the top eight. Benko was 12th in 2:00.27, while Owen was last among 16 swimmers in 2:03.34.
Yana Klochkova of Ukraine, who won gold in the 400 individual medley Saturday, was the quickest qualifier for the 200 IM final in 2:13.08.
Cristina Teuscher of New Rochelle, N.Y., was third-fastest in 2:13.47, while Gabrielle Rose of Memphis, Tenn., was seventh in 2:14.40.