A Night of Records for Lisogor and Marshall
21-Jan-2006 Craig Lord
World records are just not good enough these days, it seems. Four years almost to the day after he last set the world short-course record over 50 metres breaststroke, Ukraine's Oleg Lisogor shaved 0.03sec off his best to take the race at the Berlin round of the world cup today in 26.17sec.
He was a second up on the field, had shaved, tapered and rested up for the effort, got the world record - the 75th in the history of the Arena Festival, the first to be broken in Berlin this year and only the second of the current world cup season (Libby Lenton claiming the first at home in Australia over 200m freestyle) - so must surely be in line for the overall prize this season, right?
Don't be silly, of course he's not. South Africa's Rky Neethling, with a 100m medley time that is not the world record, remains 26 points ahead, courtesy of a points scoring system that needed changing but was left in place to make a mockery of the whole season.
Still, Lisogor might cheer himself up by zipping back to Ukraine in a VW Golf, one of the prizes offered for excellence in Berlin. "I shaved for this and it's four years since I broke the record, so it was about time," said a smiling Lisogor. "I wasn't think of the car - but it would be nice, an additional present for my 27th birthday two days ago."
His wasn't the first big record of the day. A couple of strokes shy of Lenton's world standard, the 1:54.53 victory of Britain's Melanie Marshall offered, nonetheless, plenty to celebrate: the fourth fastest ever, it also established a European record, 0.11sec inside the standard set by Sweden's Josefin Lillhage, world short-course champion, in February last year.
Only Germany's Annika Liebs came close to Marshall, her national record of 1:55.19 blinding the rather patriotic announcer to the fact that a new European standard had been set ahead of the local hero. You might forgive the hosts's enthusiasm for Liebs's silver lining: it confined to history the 13-year-old national record of a certain Franziska van Almsick.
A rushed apology and the crown was also able to celebrate a continental achievement with a polite ripple. It was Marshall's best by 0.57sec.
"I wasn't look to go that fast, it just happened," said Marshall. "We had a hard training camp in Grand Canaria before this and Stockholm." Now, it would be "full-on" focus on the Commonwealth Games, in March at Melbourne, where she was looking forward to racing the clear race favourite over 200m, Lenton, of whom the Australian public will be expecting at least a few gold medals and a couple of world records, not least of all the fall of Van Almsick's long-course world record.
Anything less than that might be seen as a bit of a let down after the kind of build up the Australian has been enjoying this past year and the hype surrounding her ambition to break Van Almsick's standard 12 years after the retired German first broke the 1:57sec barrier.
The men's freestyle events may not have set the world on fire but they did show that a new generation is starting to put its head above the parapet. Over 100m, the four youngest in the final filled the top four spots, France's Alain Bernard the only man inside 48sec, with a 47.90sec victory, while the 400m fell to German 19-year-old Paul Biedermann in 3:41.94. After him came Romania's Dragos Coman, on 3:42.27, and an exciting new prospect from South Africa, Jean Basson, just 18, on 3:44.43.
Japan continued to thrive, with four wins, one more than the host nation. As in Stockholm, Hidemasa Sano was the class act among 400m medley men, clocking 4:06.85 for a comfortable winning margin of almost three seconds over Poland's Lukasz Wojt, on 4:09.69.
Sano's teammate Ai Shibata dominated the 800 metres freestyle and took first place in 8:18.76, followed by Spain's Erika Villaecija on 8:24.48 and China's Miao Tan third on 8:27.75. It was interesting to note that China's coaches had a camera trained on the race but it was not trained on Miao or 15-year-old teammate Li Mo back in sixth on 8:32.34 - rather it followed the progress of Olympic champion Shibata.
The 200m medley saw two women dip below the 2mins 10sec mark, Japan's Maiko Fujino snatching victory in 2:09.54sec, 0.29sec up on Poland's Katarzyna Baranowksa, while Hanae Ito completed a successful session for the Japanese, with a somewhat lonely 2:05.97sec win over 200m backstroke.
Janine Pietsch drew hearty applause for a sharp 27.20sec victory over 50m backstroke, while Mandy Loots secured a rare win for South African women when she took the 100 metres butterfly final in 58.42, 0.02sec ahead of seasoned campaigner Martina Moravcova, of Slovakia.
Over 100m breaststroke, Tara Kirk, the world record holder from the US, was a step up on the rest but Britain's Kirsty Balfour wiped half a second off the Scottish record that she established in Stockholm and went 0.18sec inside the British record that was also establish in Sweden four days ago, by teammate Kate Haywood. Here in Berlin, Haywood settled for third in 1:06.71.
Having finished second by a whisker over 100m backstroke behind American Randall Bal - 51.41 to 51.43 - Thomas Rupprath brought the host's tally of wins to rest at three with a 53.52sec victory over 100m medley.
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