- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dara Torres lost an improbable gold medal Sunday morning by one-hundredth of a second _ the same margin that kept Michael Phelps on course to break Mark Spitz’s record.

The 41-year-old Torres, a five-time Olympian and the oldest American swimmer ever, settled for a silver when Germany’s Britta Steffen nipped her at the wall in the 50-meter freestyle to complete a sweep of the women’s sprint events in Beijing.

Torres smiled, her head dropping back, when she saw a time of 24.07 seconds _ just behind Steffen’s winning effort of 24.06. The German added to her gold in the 100 free.

Still, Torres’ second-place finish was a remarkable showing considering she had retired a second time after the 2000 Sydney Games, then got the urge to compete again after having her first child two years ago. Not content swimming in the old-timers’ division, she set out to prove that age is only a number.

Consider that point made.

Torres got off to a good start and appeared to be leading midway through the race, a frenetic sprint from one end of the pool to the other.

As they came to the wall, Torres and Steffen were stroke for stroke. The German reached out with her left hand and Torres stretched with her right. Steffen’s fingertip got there first.

Completing a race for all ages, 16-year-old Australian Cate Campbell claimed the bronze in 24.17.

It was the final day of swimming at the Water Cube, but Torres’ day wasn’t done. She was scheduled to anchor the Americans in the 400 medley relay, going for the 12th _ and surely last _ medal of her career.

Then again, never count this woman out. She’ll only be 45 for the London Games.

The last race in Beijing was the men’s medley relay, with Phelps going for his record eight gold medal of the games in an event the Americans have never lost at the Olympics.

Grant Hackett fell short in his bid to become the first man to win the same event at three straight Olympics.

Australia’s distance king was upset in the 1,500 freestyle by Ous Mellouli, who won Tunisia’s first Olympic swimming gold in 14 minutes, 40.84 seconds.

Mellouli held off Hackett in the closing meters of the grueling race, swimming’s version of the mile. Hackett earned the silver in 14:41.53, well off his 7-year-old world record of 14:34.56.

Ryan Cochrane of Canada took the bronze in 14:42.69.

Mellouli, who trains in Southern California, was coming off a suspension after testing positive for amphetamines.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide