Michael
Phelps may or may not walk away with more gold at the FINA World Swimming
Championships, but this morning Grant Hackett not only broke a world record in
the 800m freestyle final, but broke an Ian Thorpe record to boot. It now puts
him right on target to win three individual gold medals in Montreal, with his
strongest event, the 1,500m, still to come.

In swimming seven minutes 38.65 seconds this morning, the Gold Coast
Olympic long-distance specialist clipped more than half a second off
Thorpe’s previous time of 7.39.16 set at the 2001 world title meet in
Japan. Incredibly at one point during the race he was more than five
seconds ahead of world record pace before dropping back. But he still
finished almost seven seconds ahead of American Larsen Jensen in second.

Given
that Thorpe has been concentrating in recent years on swimming the shorter
distances and abandoning the 800m, it was probably only a matter of time before the ever-competitive
and reliable Hackett would bust Thorpedo’s record.

But
by Beijing in
2008, will Thorpe decide to quit his quest for the 100m freestyle – and
again find the challenge to his liking to beat Hackett over the 800m distance?
It would be some race.

Peter Fray

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