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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK

Double joy for Thorpe

Swimming sensation Ian Thorpe picked up two gold medals on the first day of action at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

After winning the 400m freestyle in a world record time, "Thorpedo" led Australia home in the 4x100m freestyle.

The multi world-record holder is still on course to win a total of seven golds at the 2002 Games.

"I came here relaxed and the crowd and the atmosphere they generated made it easier"
Ian Thorpe

Although many predicted that Australia would walk away with the relay it was slightly more difficult to predict who would come out on top in the individual event - Thorpe or teammate Grant Hackett.

Both were neck-and-neck until the 250m mark, when Thorpe stepped up another level and breezed past his compatriot.

Scotland's Graeme Smith took the bronze medal after an impressive race.

"I'm pretty happy about that," said Thorpe after the race.

"I came here relaxed and the crowd and the atmosphere they generated made it easier."

Thorpe's new time of three minutes 40.8 seconds was nine tenths of a second faster than the old record which he set himself at the 2001 World Championship in Fukuoka.

Hackett recorded a time of 3:43.48 while Smith touched home in 3:49.40.

Relief for Smith

A delighted Smith said he was relieved to have finally picked up a Commonwealth medal.

"Before this meet I've won medals at all major meets apart from the Commonwealths," said the Scot.

"It was the one I was missing and coming out of the last hundred there was no chance I was missing the bronze medal today."

Later the 4x100m was set for a shock as the Canadians provided a tough battle for Australia in the closing stages.

Hackett, who had just competed in a final, was made to work hard by Matthew Rose.

But once Thorpe took over on the final leg, the result was virtually academic.

Australia took gold in a Commonwealth record time of 3.16.42, while South Africa finished ahead of Canada to take silver.

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