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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Gold medal tarnished by chaos?
The British women's 200m freestyle relay team have won a long-awaited gold medal at the World Swimming Championships.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
But is the win tarnished by the chaotic events after the race?
First there was disqualification, then a reinstatement followed by an appeal.
It preceded the confirmation that Britain's Nicola Jackson, Janine Belton, Karen Legg and Karen Pickering were gold medallists.
Australia were disqualified after team members jumped into the pool ahead of the other teams finishing.
America were also ruled out of a medal for a premature changeover, but were reinstated and then disqualified once again.
It has been a long wait for Britain who have not claimed a gold medal in the Championships since David Wilkie's double back in 1975.
But have events after the race devalued the glory?
As a longtime competitive swimmer, I can say that one of the lessons we are taught, whether in a relay or in an individual event, is dont jump in the pool until the last swimmer has finished. I therefore have little sympathy for the Australians. Whereas I do not know the rules for relay starts, in a race, the time is never taken to a thousandth of a second. The human eye cannot be expected to evaluate, so minutely, when someone's hand will touch the wall. Perhaps it would be fair to say that if the gold medal in the 50 freestyle at the Olympics was determined to the hundredth of a second, so should a relay start. In that case, it seems that the Americans made a fair start.
Any Brit who says a victory is a victory is clearly desperate for a win of any sort. The Aussie girls committed a technical error which in no way altered the result of the swim. With the Brit's current lack of sporting talent, there is little wonder they will grab anything that looks like a win.
This isn't the first time that either the Australians or the Americans have been guilty of pushing the rules to the very limit and then pleading not to be penalised. Think rugby union, golf, or any other sport where both countries excel. On the day both swimming teams were stupid. There's no other word to describe two talented, motivated teams making such a hash of things. Britain won and it's as simple as that. No excuses from those disqualified can take the victory away. Good on you girls. You won by everything that's good and fair in sport.
To say the race should have been swum again, as Doug from Australia suggested, is absolutely ridiculous. Would it be repeated until the result was the one that he wanted? All the teams had their chance and two of them blew it - that's racing. You can't argue with the rules otherwise there's no point in having any. And yes, I would say the same thing had GB been disqualified.
The record books will show that GB won the gold medal and at the end of the day that is all that really matters.
I don't doubt that Australia were the best team but it would have set a precedent if their victory had stood, encouraging all winning relay teams to do what they like, regardless of the effect on other teams.
Of course this chaos will taint the result. We were beaten fair and square in the pool. The fact that the Australians were in the pool before the end of the race only means they were disqualified on a technicality and the 0.006 seconds the USA gained would not have changed the result. The British women did brilliantly to beat the British record and come third in the pool but to think we have got one over on the Americans and Australians is daft. I think we should see this as a great performance from our relay team and hope this doesn't happen again.
And the winner is...er I'm not sure if there is one actually. Comments seem to be broadly split on national lines and will probably remain so. Clearly the rules have been implemented as written - what I find sad is that they are so readily questioned when the outcome doesn't suit. Either have rules and stick to them or give up any pretence of fairness and respect for your competitors, and let's at least have "Honest cheating" - now there's a concept!
These things happen in sport all the time. At the end of the day when you pick the record books in ten years time no one will remember or even care what happened to the USA or Australia. Good luck to our girls, who will have those medals forever.
Sure, it's a hollow victory, but in the books, it's still a victory. I feel sorry for the Aussies, less so for the USA, but they all knew the rules before they started.
Even when we win a gold medal, albeit by default, we still moan over how it was done. All the swimmers know the rules, so only have themselves to blame in breaking them.
I think the British team deserve the gold simply because the other two teams broke the rules. Sport is a simple concept. Teams or individuals compete by the same rules. If you break the rules then you must pay the price. The Americans clearly broke early in one of the changes, this is an outright infringement of the rules.
Every ten-year-old involved in competitive swimming knows that if you jump in too early then youre out.
Stupidity has lost the gold for the Australians and they only have themselves to blame.
Early celebrations are wrong when other competitors are are trying everything to get to the finish line.
Winning a championship is about who performs best on the day. Britain won the women's 4x200m because their team swam fast and stuck to the rules. Both of these are pre-requisites of winning. Britain therefore fully deserves the gold medal.
My message to the Australians who seek to denigrate the British victory is the same as their message to the England cricket team: You have got to master the basics before you deserve the top award.
The British girls were awarded the gold medal, they did not win it. There's a big difference, and I'm sure the girls know that. They were clearly not the best in the pool on the day, but at least they didn't break any rules!
The achievement is undoubtedly hollow, but success breeds success, so maybe GB getting a gold medal will inspire others. As for Australia, it was an incredibly rude thing to ignore the Italians still finishing. It reminds me of the Americans' premature celebrations in the last Ryder Cup.
The worst thing about this is that the Americans were disgraced as cheating but the Aussies were disgraced in celebrating. Why not simply have swum the race again the next day? I feel for the British girls who must feel robbed of any glory in winning, but the loser is swimming, for such a farce.
The British women may have been awarded the gold medal, but realistically cannot call themselves "World Champions". True, the actions of the Australian team were in clear violation of the rules, but it is obvious who is the best relay team in the world. I'm sure the Australians won't make that mistake again.
Rules are rules, but can the English truly say they one the gold medal even though they weren't the fastest? The Australians did swim the full race without any technical fault - they just celebrated too early. Does this really justify the penalty they incurred?
The rules are the rules. However it does seem a bit strange to disqualify a team for something which did not affect their performance - they did not have a faulty change over, take drugs etc.
However fortunate the team is to win gold, this should not in anyway dilute what has been a superb team performance to date when compared to the disasters of the Sydney Olympics.
Well done to everyone!
There seems to be no consistency in so many areas of swimming. Rules governing everything from relay takeovers to backstroke turns are often vague and left to interpretation. At the 2000 Olympics Ian Thorpe jumped out of the pool before the race had finished to celebrate after the final leg of the 4x100 freestyle relay. Technically that's against the rules but they weren't disqualified. And don't get me started about being disqualified for 'moving on the blocks!'
It is sad for everyone concerned. The Australians won the race but lost their gold medal. The Americans would have been the beneficiaries of the Australian's premature celebration but for their own over anxious changes. And the British girls have a hollow gold medal when they know that they were not the best in the pool. Unfortunately, no-one is a winner here.
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