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Thursday, August 19, 2004
Beard rolls to win in 200 breaststroke

Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- American Amanda Beard won her first individual Olympic gold medal Thursday night, holding off Australian Leisel Jones in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Beard won in an Olympic-record time of 2 minutes, 23.37 seconds -- 0.23 seconds better than Jones, who was under world-record pace for the first 150 meters.

"I don't think the smile will come off my face for a while," the three-time Olympian said.

Jones took silver in 2:23.60. Anne Poleska of Germany earned bronze in 2:25.82.

Beard and Jones are the two fastest female breaststrokers in history. Jones owned the world record for two days in July before Beard broke it at the U.S. trials with a time of 2:22.44. The American also is the reigning world champion.

Beard, of Irvine, Calif., earned her sixth career Olympic medal. She also won a silver in the 200 individual medley in Athens. Four years ago, she was the bronze medalist in the 200 breast.

Jones earned a bronze in the 100 breaststroke at these games.

Defending Olympic champion Agnes Kovacs of Hungary finished fifth in the 200.

Brooke Hanson of Australia, the silver medalist in the 100 breaststroke in Athens, finished eighth and last.

Coughlin gets bronze
Jodie Henry of Australia followed a world-record swim in the semifinals by winning an Olympic gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle Thursday night, holding off defending champion Inge de Bruijn and American Natalie Coughlin.

Henry finished strong and touched first in 53.84 seconds, just one day after setting that world record of 53.52 in the semis.

The 30-year-old de Bruijn, who won gold for the Netherlands four years ago, took silver this time in 54.16. Coughlin, of Concord, Calif., settled for bronze at 54.40.

Henry has emerged as one of the top female swimmers of the Athens Games. On Saturday, she passed American Jenny Thompson in the final leg of the 400 freestyle relay to give Australia the gold in world-record time. Henry swam her 100 split in 52.95.

Coughlin's first Olympics also has been a medal bonanza. She picked up her fourth of these games, following golds in the 100 backstroke and 800 freestyle relay, in which she swam the leadoff leg on the way to breaking a 17-year-old world record. Coughlin also helped the 400-free relay team to a silver medal.

In addition, Coughlin will swim on the women's 400-medley relay, giving her another strong chance for a medal.

Still, she failed to end the American drought in the women's 100 free. The last U.S. swimmer to take gold in that event was Carrie Steinseifer at the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games.

The other American in the field, Kara Lynn Joyce of Ann Arbor, Mich., was fifth at 54.54.