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.