Swimming: Foster earns a second gold

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MARK FOSTER struck gold for Britain in the men's 50 metres butterfly on the final day of the World Short Course Championships here. Foster won yesterday in 23.61 seconds, ahead of China's Zhang Qiang in 23.87 and Joris Keizer of the Netherlands in 23.96. The Brit had clocked 24.02 to finish third in his semi-final, behind Keizer and Sweden's Dan Linstrom. He had also won the 50m freestyle gold.

Earlier, James Hickman and Helen Don-Duncan had won silver medals for Britain. Hickman clocked 1min 56.51sec in the 200m medley final, behind Australia's Matthew Dunn, who won in 1:55.81. Hickman led until the breaststroke leg of the medley but slowed in the latter stages of the race, enabling Dunn to take gold.

Don-Duncan took the silver in the 200m backstroke in a time of 2:08.18 with Mai Nakamura of Japan winning in 2:06.49 to add to her 100m backstroke gold.

Of the remaining Britons featuring in the finals, Karen Pickering finished fifth in the women's 200m freestyle in 1:57.95 behind Martina Moravcova. Sue Rolph finished last in the women's 200m medley final in 2:16.32, Slovakia's Martina Moravcova winning in 2:08.55, while in the men's 100m backstroke, British pair Neil Willey and Martin Harris finished sixth and eighth respectively in 53.55 and 54.57.

Australia and Japan dominated the four-day championships, chalking up another world record apiece on the last day. The Australian men's 4x100m medley relay team set a pounding pace and fended off a fierce late challenge from Sweden to clock a world record in 3:29.88. They broke Australia's own world record of 3:30.66 set in April 1997.

Australia had a commanding nine gold medals, also nailing down 11 silvers and seven bronzes as well as three of eight world records. The Australian record in the final event came just after the Japanese women's team had set a world record in the 4x100m medley relay with 3:57.62, beating the previous best of 3:57.73 set by China in December 1993.

Japan brought only five swimmers but boasted second place in the medals table with six gold, two silver and one bronze.

Yesterday's world records capped a day of fierce competition in individual events as the swimmers moved into top gear for next year's Olympics.