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Gyurta A Boy In Athens; A Man In Rome

Jul 31, 2009  - Craig Lord

Rome 2009, Day 6

Men's 200m breaststroke final

Daniel Gyurta won Olympic silver as a boy in Athens. As a man in Rome he surged from behind to snatch a surprise gold medal in the men's 200 metres breaststroke final.

Gyurta was trailing in last place at the half-way point and sixth at the final turn but he pulled off a sizzling last 50 to clinch a tight race by a fingernail's length in 2:07.64 seconds.

Eric Shanteau, an American who came back from cancer, was just 0.01sec off the pace. 

"When I was 10 metres from the wall I saw Shanteau was still in front of me and at five I started to concentrate on my technique and put all my power into my strokes," said Gyurta. "You can see that it worked."

Christian Sprenger (AUS), who set a world record of 2:07.31 in yesterday's semis, and Giedrius Titenis (LTU) both picked up the bronze medal.  The Lithuanian clocked 2:16 in 2006. He has never been better. Until now. The time: 2:07.80. Not all things can be put down to suits, of course.

Shanteau, even in his X-Glide and aurrounded by other shiny suits, noted that there is a point beyond which you cannot pass.

"You tend to tighten up a little in the breaststroke. You go from swimming like you're 10 feet tall to swimming like you're three feet tall," Shanteau said. "That's kind of what happened to me in the last 10-15."

The race showed the ridiculous nature of the fast-forward on the clock:

Rome 2009

  • Final: 2:07.64 - 2:10.26
  • Inside 2:08: 4
  • Inside 2:09: 6
  • Inside 2:10: 7

Melbourne 2009

  • Final: 2:21.84 - 2:28.67
  • Inside 2:08: 0
  • Inside 2:09: 0
  • Inside 2:10: 1
  • Inside 2:11: 2
  • Inside 2:12: 6
  • Inside 2:13: 8