Randall Bal Wins World Title In 50m BackStroke

July 25, 2001

Fukuoka, Japan - In his first international competition, Randall Bal came back with theworld title in the 50m backstroke. Bal went 25.34 to outswim Germany'sThomas Rupprath (25.44) and Australia's Matt Welsh (25.49).

'I'm ecstatic right now,' Bal said. 'I came hoping to medal in both the50m and 100m back in my first international competition and I feel like Isucceeded in my goal. It feels great to be a world champion.'

Bal, who will be a junior this fall, has already established himself as a top collegiate swimmer. The eight-time All-American swam the lead-off leg of Stanford's 2001 NCAA Champion 200 free relay team and is a two-time Pac-10 Champion in the 100 back.

'I'm speechless,' said Stanford men's swimming head coach Skip Kenney. 'To hear your national anthem and to receive that gold medal is the ultimate. He's a world class athlete. He won the race from start to finish.'

The women's 800m free relay should be awarded the gold tomorrow aftera confusing series of events tonight. The team of Natalie Coughlin(1:59.94), Cristina Teuscher (1:58.54), Julie Hardt (1:59.70) and DianaMunz (1:58.35) broke the American record with a time of 7:56.53. At the end of the race, itappeared Australia had won as they posted the fastest time at 7:56.00, just out-touching theU.S. team. The board then showed a disqualification for the American team. A few minuteslater, the Autstralian team was also disqualified, appearing to give Great Britain, who hadtouched a distance third, the gold medal. National Team Director Dennis Pursley immediatelyprotested the disqualification, which had been called when the timing system showed Teuscherhad left early. The touchpad in that lane had already malfunctioned more than once that day,and the exchange had looked clean, so Pursley protested and asked for a review of the video.The video clearly showed that the exchange was clean, so about 30 minutes after the race, theU.S. team was announced the winners. The Australians had been disqualified because one oftheir swimmers had jumped into the lane to celebrate their finish before the rest of the teamshad completed the race. FINA will be reviewing all protests in a meeting tomorrow morning at9:30 a.m. so there will be no official results for the event until after that meeting.

Klete Keller posted a personal best 1:47.10 to take the bronze medal in the 200m free as IanThorpe broke another world record to win the event. Pieter van den Hoogenband touched firstat the 50 in 24.67, Thorpe at 24.81, while Keller was fifth at 25.69. By the 100, Thorpe waswithin .02 of Hoogenband at 51.45 to 51.43, while Keller had dropped to seventh at 53.19.Thorpe started to take over at the 150m mark, turning in 1:18.26 to Hoogenband's 1:18.46.Keller was back at fifth in 1:20.72, bringing it home strong to take the bronze. Thorpe poweredhome in a world record time of 1:44.06, with Hoogenband taking silver in 1:45.81. Keller's timemoved him ahead of Matt Biondi to make him the second-fastest American in history.

'This was my first time swimming the 200 internationally, so I'm glad that I medaled,' Kellersaid. 'My tactic was to get on the laneline right away and try to draft off of Pieter van denHoogenband. That only worked for about 25 meters. Then he got away from me.

'Ian Thorpe is raising the bar for all of us. He's great for the profile of the sport.'

Kristy Kowal took fifth in the 200m breast final with a time of 2:25.84. The gold medal went toAgnes Kovac of Hungary (2:24.90), followed by two Chinese, Hui Qi, the world record-holder,and Xuejuan Luo, who finished in 2:25.09 and 2:25.29, respectively.

Inge de Bruijn won the 100m free final in 54.18.

In semifinal action, Tom Wilkens posted the fastest time in the 200m IM at 2:00.45. Olympicchampion Massi Rosolino was sixth in 2:01.57. His Italian teammate Alessio Boggiatto wassecond in 2:00.49. Robert Margalis just missed the cut, placing 10th in 2:02.71. It took2:01.70 to make the top eight.

Natalie Coughlin qualified fourth in the 50m fly with a time of 26.64. Top seed is de Bruijn at26.10.

'I tried the no breathing thing,' Coughlin said. 'That was not a good idea. I'm glad I tried it in the semifinals. I won't be doing that tomorrow in the final.'

Ian Crocker was also fourth-fastest in his semifinal, swimming the 100m fly in 52.63, not faroff his American record of 52.44. Top seed is Lars Frolander of Sweden at 52.17, followed byworld record-holder Michael Klim of Australia (52.50) and Takashi Yamamoto of Japan (52.55).

Brendan Hansen and Ed Moses both advanced to the 200m breast finals, finishing fifth(2:13.13) and sixth (2:13.27), respectively, in the semifinal. The surprise top seed was MaximPodoprigora of Austria at 2:11.65.

Jamie Reid and Jessica Aveyard were 11th (2:14.57) and 12th (2:24.67) in the 200m backsemifinal.

courtesy of USA Swimming

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