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American Coughlin wins women's 100m backstroke Olympic gold
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10:40, August 12, 2008


Natalie Coughlin (L) of the United States receives congratulation from Russia's Anastasia Zueva after the final of women's 100m backstroke at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Natalie Coughlin claimed the title with 58.96 seconds.



Natalie Coughlin (R) of the United States receives congratulation after the final of women's 100m backstroke at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Natalie Coughlin claimed the title with 58.96 seconds.



Natalie Coughlin of the United States reacts after the final of women's 100m backstroke at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008. Natalie Coughlin claimed the title with 58.96 seconds.



Gold medalist Natalie Coughlin (C) of the United States, runner-up Kirsty Conventry (L) of Zimbabwe and Margaret Hoelzer of the United States pose for photos with their medals on the podium during awarding ceremony of women's 100m backstroke at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 12, 2008.

U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin defended her Olympic title by beating hot favorite Zibabwean veteran Kirsty Coventry in Tuesday's women's 100-meter backstroke.

Coughlin led the race from the start and was the first to reach the 50-meter turn with Coventry closely trailing behind. Coventry, who broke Coughlin's world record in Monday's semifinals, tried to catch up in the final 50 meters, but Coughlin managed to finish first.

This was the first gold medal for the U.S. women in what has been a disappointing Games in the pool for them so far. Coughlin has already won a silver in women's 4X100 freestyle relay in Beijing.

Cougnlin clocked in 58.96 seconds, well off Coventry's world record. Coventry, also Athens silver medalist, was 0.23 seconds behind, settling for a silver.

Coughlin won five medals in Athens, including two golds, two silvers and a bronze. Wiping tears from face, the 26-year-old US. swimmer said the win was incredible.

"It hasn't really sunk in yet. When I first saw the time I thought they had made a mistake. It was a very fast time," said Coughlin. "When I saw the 'One' by my name I thought they had made a mistake. Then I saw my name there and I realized that I'd got it."

In contrast to Coughlin's excitement, silver medalist Coventry seemed very quite. "I was a bit disappointed with my time, (but) not disappointed with the silver medal," Coventry said.

The Zimbabwean said she was "super-nervous" "I knew Natalie was going to have a good race. I think I started a bit fast, because my arms were a bit 'spinny' at the start."

Coventry, seen as Zimbabwe's "national treasure", won three medals in Athens, including one gold, one silver and one bronze.

On the support she has received back home, Coventry said Zimbabwean fans are very appreciative of her medals. "It was awesome to have my flag raised; it's huge for the people back home."

Coventry said she is sure she would get "a really good reception from home." "But I'm trying not to think about it. I'm trying to do a good thing for people back home. I have this opportunity to make people proud."

Another U.S. swimmer Margaret Hoelzer won bronze in 59.34 seconds. Hoelzer, who finished fifth in 200 backstroke in Athens, was elated.

"It's my first Olympic medal. It was really fantastic, really excited. Right now I just want to sit down and my legs are so tired," Hoelzer said.

"It's my first medal of this Olympics. I'm thrilled. It's not something you can ever expect. I knew I had a shot at it in the race. But it's not something you take for granted. It was a close race. Third, fourth and fifth were very close, so it's not something you just expect."

France's Laure Manaudou, Athens bronze medalist, failed to reach the podium, ranking seventh.

"I am disappointed. It's hard to swim a race and to finish seventh or eighth. I'm lost," said Manaudou.

Source:Xinhua

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