Goodwill Games: Heyns' record time tainted by red tape

Click to follow
By John Mehaffey in New York

THE DOUBLE Olympic champion, Penny Heyns, set a world 50 metres breaststroke record en route to winning the 100m at the Goodwill Games on Saturday but was then unable to claim a $50,000 (pounds 30,000) bonus.

Heyns, of South Africa, swimming for the World team against the United States, clocked 30.95sec at the 50m mark, bettering the previous best of 31.58 set by the East German Silke Horner 10 years ago.

Last January, the sport's world governing body, Fina, approved world records in the 50m backstroke, 50m breaststroke and 50m butterfly. Previously they had been recognised as world bests. Heyns, though, found to her chagrin that she was ineligible for the $50,000 bonus awarded for world records at the Games because the 50m breaststroke was not one of the listed events.

"All I know is there was no fine print," said Heyns. "It said a world record equals $50,000, so I went for the record. It would have been nice if I was eligible for it."

Games officials hastily conferred and later issued a statement saying they would award Heyns $10,000. "Bonus money for swimming world records set during the Goodwill Games are for officially contested events on our sports menu," the statement said. "Of the 14 official events contested in the swimming competition, the 50m breaststroke is not one of them. This does not diminish in any way her superlative effort."

Less than half an hour after breaking the record, Heyns was in the pool again to win the 200m breaststroke in 2min 26.73sec as the World team overpowered China 86-35.

The United States, led by the five-times Olympic champion, Jenny Thompson, and Cristina Teuscher, swept the first six events of the evening and won 10 of the 14 races to beat Germany 78-44 and win the gold medal.

At Madison Square Garden, the Italian Paolo Vidoz provided an upset in the boxing finals by outpointing the hulking Cuban super-heavyweight Alexis Rubalcaba 9-3.