Hickman bursts Hubble's bubble

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The Independent Online
JAMES HICKMAN broke the second longest standing British record twice with two superb swims at the Optrex British Olympic trials at the Ponds Forge leisure centre yesterday.

The Stockport 20-year-old claimed Phil Hubble's 200m butterfly record, which had stood since 1981, in the morning's heats when he became the first Briton to beat the two minute mark with 1:59.72, cutting half a second off Hubble's record.

Then, in the evening's final, Hickman reduced the new record by a further 01.22sec as he stormed home in 1:58.50.

Only Sharron Davies' record for the women's 400m medley, set at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, had stood longer than Hubble's mark, and Hubble, 35, now working for a computer firm in Ireland, was one of the first to congratulate Hickman.

Another long-standing record fell in the women's 200m medley where Sue Rolph's victory in 2:16.41 cut 0.80sec off Scot Jean Hill's 10-year-old British record and 0.90sec off the English record held by Sharron Davies since 1980.

Hickman, who had already qualified for Atlanta by winning Thursday's 100m butterfly, said: "My main focus in the heat was to get the qualifying time and I didn't really push it that hard, and so I was pretty confident that I would drop a bit more tonight."

Britain's three world-class men's backstrokers, Neil Willey, Martin Harris and Adam Ruckwood, produced a memorable 100m final, with 19-year- old Willey finally ending Harris' six-year reign as British No 1 when he powered to victory in a career-best 55.04. His time was just four-hundreths of a second outside Harris' British record and the second fastest in the world this year.

Harris also qualified for Atlanta with 55.44, with Ruckwood missing out, even though his time of 56.62 was also well inside the required qualifying time. Ruckwood, however, should comfortably secure his place in tomorrow's 200m backstroke.

Nick Gillingham's victory in the 200m breaststroke earned him the chance to climax his career with a third Olympic medal in the event after winning silver in Seoul and bronze in Barcelona.

But Suki Brownsdon's dream of becoming the first British swimmer to compete in five Olympics ended when the 30-year-old could finish only third in the 100m breaststroke. Jaime King secured her Atlanta place with victory in 1:10.52.