British quartet strike gold as Fargus secures bronze

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The Independent Online

After the chaos of Wednesday night, when the international swimming federation took the unprecedented step of suspending the medal presentation to consider numerous appeals, the British quartet of Nicola Jackson, Janine Belton, Karen Legg and Karen Pickering finally received their gold medals for the 4x200m freestyle at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan yesterday.

"We would have wanted to win a different way," Pickering said. "You want to touch the wall first and remember how that feels. But we've worked hard, annihilated the British record and got the gold. It feels great." Jackson, 17, said: "I can't believe it. This is close to the best moment of my life."

The jury of appeal met in the early hours of yesterday to decide that the original winners, Australia, were guilty of a "clear violation" after its swimmers jumped into the pool before other teams had finished. It also decided unanimously to uphold a protest submitted by Britain and Japan and concluded that "the timing system worked perfectly during the race". This meant the disqualification of the US, originally second, was upheld.

Jo Fargus, the 19-year-old from Bath, swam a superb 200m backstroke, charging through the field to win bronze behind the Olympic champion, Diana Mocanu. Her 2:11.05 was one hundredth outside her British record.

"I am a bit disappointed with the time ­ I thought I could do 2:09, but it was not happening today. I will not complain about bronze, but there is still a lot more to give and I will show that at next year's Commonwealth Games," she said.

The men's coach Ian Turner, who also coaches Fargus at Bath, said: "It has been an exceptional day for British swimming. They do not come like this very often."

In the heats of the 50m breaststroke, Sheffield's Zoe Baker set a European record of 31.23 and is ranked second in today's final.

Inge de Bruin, of the Netherlands, continued her relentless march towards four golds with her second yesterday, in the women's 50m butterfly, and the Olympic champion Lars Frolander was too strong for Australia's Michael Klim in the 100m butterfly. The giant Swede was never troubled as he powered down the final 50m.

Ian Thorpe, of Australia, and Pieter Van den Hoogenband, of the Netherlands, continue their rivalry, this time in the 100m freestyle. The pair have not met over this distance in a major event and today's final favours the Dutchman, who set a world record 47.84sec to win gold in the Sydney Olympics last year. The question is whether Thorpe has the natural speed to stay with his rival and the American sprint champion Anthony Ervin.

Mark Foster also hopes to atone for his disappointment in the 50m freestyle as he swims the heats and semi-final of the 50m butterfly.

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