Source: Xinhua

08-10-2008 14:52

Special Report:   2008 Beijing Olympic Games

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Australia's Olympic debutant Stephanie Rice beat top favorite U.S. swimmer Katie Hoff in the women's 400 meter individual medley, pocketing her first Olympic gold Sunday with an astonishing new world record.

Rice led all the way to the finish in four minutes 29.45 seconds, shaving 1.67 seconds off the previous world record set by Hoff in the U.S. swimming trials in June.

Stephanie Rice of Australia competes during women's 400m individual medley final of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games at National Aquatics Center in Beijing, China, August 10, 2008. Stephanie Rice won the gold medal in a new world record time of 4:29.45.(Xinhua)
Stephanie Rice of Australia competes during women's
400m individual medley final of the Beijing 2008 
Olympic Games at National Aquatics Center in Beijing,
China, August 10, 2008. Stephanie Rice won the 
gold medal in a new world record time of 4:29.45.(Xinhua)

Zimbabwean veteran Kirsty Conventry also broke the world record and won a silver in 4:29.89. World record holder Hoff seemed to have once again succumbed to nerves and was almost 2.26 seconds behind Rice, settling for a bronze.

Rice was overexcited with the new feat. "I thought off when I turned around, then thinking it hurts a lot for (four minutes and) 31 (seconds). But when I knew its (four minutes and ) 29 ( seconds) I thought it's amazing. I hasn't sunk in yet. I thought no one could go under (four minuets and ) 30 (seconds)."

Racing against Hoff has apparently pushed Rice faster. "I know I go out hard in the first 200 meters because butterfly and backstroke are my best strokes. I knew Hoff is an amazing breaststroker. So I got a lot of confidence turning at the end of the breaststroke knowing that I was in the lead."

"It's the first time I've been able to race against Katie Hoff and Kirsty Coventry, but I tried not to think about any times and just swim my race."

Hoff, dubbed "female Michael Phelps" for her outstanding performance in multiple events, failed to present a golden performance Sunday.

Hoff said she was not surprised at how her competitors improved their times. "Anyone can work hard and drop times," she said. With a smile to disguise her disappointment, Hoff said she was little tired but happy to get her first ever Olympic medal.