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Tuesday, 19 September, 2000, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
GB agony as Aussies smash relay record
Klim and Thorpe
Awesome Aussies Klim and Thorpe get a taste for gold
The men's 4x200m freestyle relay team came agonisingly close to claiming Britain's first swimming medal at Sydney 2000.

The Australian quartet, led by the phenomenal Ian Thorpe, smashed the world record to romp to gold with clear blue water between them and the rest of the field.

The GB team were in second place going into the final length, but in a thrilling finale - with four teams competing for the two remaining places - they were edged out to fifth.

The American team stole second spot and the bronze was snatched by Holland, inspired by 200m freestyle champion Pieter van den Hoogenband.

New best

Britain's quartet of Ed Sinclair, Paul Palmer, Marc Spackman and James Salter clocked 7:17.98 to shatter the two-year-old national mark by well over four seconds.

James Salter j
James Salter just missed out on a medal
But they could not hide their disappointment as they failed to win Britain's first swimming medal of the Games.

"No one can complain," said Paul Palmer, "we needed just a little bit more.

"We got stuck in and gave it our best shot. It was a fantastic race. We're getting there - but we know it's taking longer than the British public would hope for."

Ed Sinclair added: "We've come so far and it's disappointing for the public at home that we won't be bringing a medal back with us."

Thorpe's treble top

Seventeen-year-old Thorpe led the Australians off as they shattered the old world record by a massive 1.74secs.

It was Australia's second men's relay victory over the Americans, who lost to the host country in a thrilling 400m free relay on Saturday.

The Aussie team of Thorpe, Michael Klim, Todd Pearson and William Kirby won in 7 minutes, 7.05 seconds - lowering Australia's world mark of 7:08.79 set in August 1999.

"We wanted to stun the opposition from the start," Klim said of the unbeatable lead that he and Thorpe built up in the first two legs.

Swimming in what was almost certainly his final race of these Olympics, Thorpe earned his third gold medal to go with the silver he claimed in the 200m free.

The US team of Scott Goldblatt, Josh Davis, Jamie Rauch and Klete Keller took silver in 7:12.64.

The Netherlands finished in 7:12.70 to win bronze - their first ever medal in the event.

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See also:

16 Sep 00 |  Swimming
Palmer's medal hopes dashed
19 Sep 00 |  Swimming
Flying Dutchman sets world best
19 Sep 00 |  Swimming
O'Neill strikes gold for Australia
19 Sep 00 |  Swimming
African novice makes big splash
19 Sep 00 |  Swimming
Parry follows Malcohow home
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