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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK

Golden glee for Pickering

Karen Pickering stunned the Australians to pick up gold in the women's 200m freestyle final.

She edged out her England compatriot Karen Legg by just fractions to finish in a Commonwealth record time of one minute 59.9 seconds.

Australia's Petria Thomas and Elka Graham took third after finishing with the same time.

"I can't believe I just did that"
Karen Pickering

Fellow countrywoman and 2001 world champion in the 200m freestyle, Giaan Rooney, failed to make any impression having begun the race from the eighth lane.

It was Pickering, Legg and Thomas who led the way after the first 25m with the Australian turning first after the first length.

But the second 50m saw Pickering and Legg pull away from Thomas.

Cheered on by the strong English contingent inside the Manchester Aquatics Centre it seemed that the agony of the 2000 Olympics, when Great Britain failed to pick up any medals in the pool, would well and truly be forgotten.

And it certainly was, in impressive and spectacular fashion as the expected challenge of the Australians faded, leaving an English battle that Pickering, only just, won.

Pickering was almost lost for words after victory in the first swimming final of the 2002 Manchester Games.

"I can't believe I just did that. I had been feeling good but I knew it was a tough race," she said.

"We got a one-two which is just incredible. It's the third time running the girls from England have won the first event so we've got to keep that going."

Legg, who hails from Poole in Dorset, added that England now will fancy their chances in the 4x200m relay.

"I'm really pleased with that. I think we've got a good chance in the four by two. I think we are going to do really well."

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