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Grevers Grinds Them Into The Ground

Jul 30, 2012

Olympic Games, London: Day 3 Finals

Men's 100 backstroke final

Matt Grevers, four years after silver in Beijing behind US teammate Aaron Peirsol, cracked the Olympic record with a powerful 52.16 victory at the helm of an American 1-2, Nick Thoman on 52.92, 0.05sec ahead of Ryosuke Irie (JPN). 

Locked out were Camille Lacourt (FRA), a second from best on 53.08, Liam Tancock (GBR) in 53.35. The winning time fell just shy of Grever's best, 52.08, set at US trials a month ago. His triumph marked the 14th title out of 24 to go to Americans since 1896. Five of those have now been won straight since 1996.

The 6-foot-8 Grevers was led at the 50m mark by Lacourt 25.31 to 25.36, Thoman level with Tancock on 25.63, Irie, the 200m man in the fight, 6th in 25.82. 

Where Thoman and Irie came home in just over 27sec and Lacourt and Tancock could not crack 27.7, Grevers ground his rivals into the ground with a 26.80 homecoming blast that was more than enough for gold.

"I feel incredible," Grevers said. "It was something I've wanted since I was 10 years old. I came so close in '08, getting silver. When Aaron Peirsol (the 2008 gold-medal winner) announced his retirement, I knew it was a great opportunity for me to step in those shoes and hopefiully get a gold medal and I did it." 

Grevers, who will marry Annie Chandler in the next chapter of his life post-London 2012, had his parents, brother and sister up in the stands. "I think someone upgraded their seats," Grevers said. "I was looking for them in the top row because that's where they were. It was empowering for me to see them there with me on the sidelines. It was awesome that I got to celebrate with them at the end. That was not for me, it was for the whole family."

On the US 1-2, he added: "I must be selfish. It took me a good 10 seconds to realize he got second and that's something I should do right away. When I noticed it (on the scoreboard), the moment became that much more special."

Thoman said: "Going into the ready room, we were both just sitting there and we shared a look and shared a thought. I think that was in both of our heads. I've been watching the Olympics for as long as I can remember," Thoman said. "The first one I really remember is the '92 Barcelona Games and just watching guys back then. Seeing Lenny Krayzelburg, my idol, and then Aaron Piersol, again my idol, who I got to train with for a little while. Just being able to carry on that tradition, it's a great thing."

Thoman is carrying on a family tradition: his grandfather, Richard Thoman, held the 100yards world record for a time back in the 1950s. The late Cecil Colwin, who passed away this month, once met Thoman's grandfather when visiting Yale in 1952 as a guest of the late, great coach, Bob Kiphuth. 

Colwin recalled: "He was a teammate of the famous  Yale 'Three M's', namely Jimmy McLane, Wayne Moore and the late John Marshall, the Australian who held every world freestyle record from 200 yards upwards, and who died tragically in a car crash shortly after swimming for Australia in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Dick Thoman came from Chicago where his grandmother, Madame Wurlitzer, was the scion of the Wurlitzer Organ manufacturing family." 

London 2012

  • 1 Grevers 52.16
  • 2 Thoman 52.92
  • 3 Irie 52.97

Beijing 2008:

  • 1. Peirsol (USA) 52.54 wr
  • 2. Grevers (USA) 53.11
  • 3. Vyatchanin (RUS), Hayden Stoeckel (AUS) 53.18
  • Fastest field - London 2012: 52.16 - 53.77

Comparison fields:

  • Shanghai 2011: 52.76 - 53.50
  • Beijing 2008: 52.54 - 53.99
  • Melbourne 2007: 52.98 - 55.04
  • Athens 2004: 54.06 - 55.27

To qualify for the final it took: 

  • 53.74 London 
  • 53.69 Shanghai 2011
  • 53.76 Beijing 2008

Pretty much the same over four years.

Reports by Craig Lord and Karin Helmstaedt.