Rebecca Soni wins gold, sets record

LONDON -- Rebecca Soni of the United States set another world record to defend her 200-meter breaststroke title at the London Olympics on Thursday.

Soni clocked 2 minutes, 19.59 seconds to improve on her own mark from Wednesday's semifinals by 0.41 seconds.

It was the sixth world record in the pool at these Games.

She broke into a big smile when she saw the time, racing the clock more than she was anyone in the water. Japan's Satomi Suzuki took silver, more than a second behind at 2:20.72, while Russia's Yulia Efimova claimed bronze in 2:20.92.

"I'm so happy," Soni said. "I can't believe I did it."

When Soni touched the wall, she leaped out of the water with joy, her fist in the air not once, but twice.

"Two fists pumps out of Rebecca Soni is huge," her coach, Dave Salo, said. "I'm probably more excited about that, just to see her happy. She's a very serious athlete."

Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

Rebecca Soni bested her own world record Thursday as she defended her 200-meter breaststroke title.

South Africa's Suzaan van Biljon led at the first turn, but the American quickly seized control on the second lap. She was comfortably ahead by the second turn, then turned on the speed to beat her own record.

"It's been my goal since I was a little kid to go under 2:20," Soni said. "That's when my coach told me you're going to be the first woman to go under 2:19. I've been chasing it ever since. I'm just so happy."

Soni was also favored to win the 100 breast but took silver behind surprise 15-year-old winner Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania.

Meilutyte did not enter the 200.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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