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Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Klochkova sets the gold standard
Yana Klochkova
Klochkova was in a world of her own
Ukraine's Yana Klochkova set a gold standard in the Olympic pool which the Americans maintained on a sensational opening night of swimming action.

Klochkova clinched the first Games swimming medal in winning the 400m individual medley in a world record time and the Americans followed suit by setting a new world mark in the womens' 4x100m freestyle relay.

But there was agony for Britain's quartet in the relay after just missing out on a medal.

The 19-year-old Klochkova posted a new world best mark of 4min 33.59sec in beating Japan's Yasuko Tajima into second place.

In front of a 17,500 packed house at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Klochkova led from the start and was never troubled as she finished 2.37 seconds ahead of Tajima.

Real race

The real race took place in Klochkova's wake as Tajima held off a spirited challenge from Romania's Beatrice Caslaru to take the silver in 4:35.96, with Caslaru taking the bronze in 4:37.18.

Klochkova's new world record lowered the previous mark set by China's Chan Yen three years ago, by more than half a second.

Pulled along by Klochkova's fast pace Tajima set a new Asian and Japanese record for the event at just 19, while Caslaru got on to the podium after finishing fourth in Atlanta four years ago.

US 4x100m relay team
Victory embrace: the US 4x100m relay team
It was the first time the Americans had been shut out of the medals in the event since they boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games with Kaitlin Sandeno finishing fourth in 4:41.03.

But they more than made up for that by surging to victory in the relay, with Jenny Thompson claiming a record-equalling sixth gold medal as she anchored the States to a new world record time of 3:36.61.

Thompson's haul of six golds - all in relays - equalled the half dozen won by former East German Kirstin Otto in the 1988 Seoul Games.

The American quartet of Amy van Dyken, Dara Torres, Courtney Shealy and Thompson lowered the previous record of 3:37.91 set by the Chinese six years ago.

Susan O'Neill gave host nation Australia the lead on the first leg but once Torres put the Americans in front on the second they never looked back.

The Netherlands, anchored by individual 100m freestyle world record holder Inge de Bruijn, finished second, more than three seconds behind the Americans in 3:39.83, with Sweden grabbing bronze in 3:40.31.

Stirring

A stirring swim by the British foursome just failed to land them a medal as they were squeezed out in a three-way race for the bronze with Sweden and Germany.

Karen Pickering handed over in sixth place to Alison Shepherd at the end of the first leg, and Shepherd pulled Britain up another place as they battled with the Swedes and Germans.

Rosalind Brett held her own in the third leg to hand Susan Rolph a chance in the final stretch.

But in a frantic finish, Sweden just touched off the Germans by a tenth of a second, with Britain narrowly missing out, despite setting a new British record for the event.

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