August 1, 2012
LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Nathan Adrian won the 100 metres freestyle final at the London Olympics on Wednesday to become the first American to win gold in the blue-riband sprint for nearly a quarter of a century.In a desperate finish, Adrian got his fingers on the wall 0.01 seconds, the smallest margin in Olympic swimming, ahead of Australian world champion James Magnussen.
Nathan stopped the clock at 47.52 seconds with Magnussen second in 47.53. Canada's Brent Hayden was third in 47.80.
Brazil's Cesar Cielo, the defending champion and reigning world record holder, was sixth in the race to decide the fastest man on water.
While the United States has been the dominant power in Olympic swimming, the last American man to win the 100 freestyle gold was Matt Biondi at Seoul in 1988.
Adrian jumped out to a good start in the first
half of the men’s 100m freestyle, touching third at the wall.
But the real race came down to the last 50 meters, with he and
World Champion James Magnussen of Australia going stroke-for-stroke
down the homestretch.
Just as it looked like Magnussen was going to pull away with his signature closing speed, Adrian stepped up and matched him. The race came down to the final stroke, with Adrian edging the Aussie by one-hundredth of a second, 47.52 to 47.53. Canada’s Brent Hayden won bronze in 47.80.
“People are coming back so fast these days,” Adrian said. “I’m a little more known for going out strong and kind of hurting on the way home, so I wanted to conserve a little more energy (in the first half) and come home strong this time. This guy’s an incredible closer, and I knew it was going to take a lot more than I’d ever done before to keep up.”
Coming into London, Adrian was ranked fourth in the world, and hadn’t broken the 48-second barrier in the 100 free until his lead-off leg of the American’s 4x100m free relay on the first night of competition.
“The most important lesson I learned from the 2011 World Championships is that every time I’m in a heat, I rid myself of externalities,” Adrian said. “(In my head) we’re like a group of fourth graders in the school yard racing for the wall. That’s where I’m most confident in my racing, and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”
Wednesday’s race marks the first time since 1988 that an American has won the men’s 100m freestyle. It was Adrian’s second medal of the meet after winning silver in the 4x100 free relay.
"I kind of touched the wall and thought, 'Oh, sweet, I've won my heat,'” Adrian said. “Then there's 10 to 15 seconds where it kind of sunk in, and I had to double check because I didn’t want to be that guy who was celebrating and got eighth or something.”
Congratulations to Adrian for his accomplishment and to all the the local coaches who coached Nathan through the years! Pacific Northwest Swimming is very proud of your accomplishment!