Swimming: Horner rallies to snatch silver

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND CLAIMED two more silver medals and a bronze in another rousing session for the team last night - and Vicki Horner nearly caused the upset of the Games so far when she staged a highly dramatic comeback over the final 50 of the women's 400 metres freestyle.

Fourth for much of the race, few gave the Newcastle-born 22-year-old much chance. But two months of hard work before these games paid off as Horner broke down the lead.

Storming to the finish, she removed three seconds from her best time to take the silver medal in 4:12.56 seconds. The experienced Australian Susan O'Neill had just enough left, winning by just 0.17 sec. "I'm speechless," said an overwhelmed Horner, words pouring out of her. "With 75 metres to go I was saying `pick up, pick up' and I felt myself getting stronger. In a close race, you don't respect anyone's reputation and I thought I might even win it."

Success continued in the men's 100 freestyle when Gavin Meadows ruined an expected Australian sweep to claim bronze, with a best time of 50.14 sec. The top two Australians, Michael Klim and Chris Fydler, both broke under the 50 seconds barrier with 49.43 and 49.51 respectively.

"I couldn't see the scoreboard, but I could hear the English cheering and I thought I must have gone under 50 seconds. But I didn't know if I'd won a medal or not. The time doesn't really matter here; a sub 50 seconds will come later."

Still not quite at the top yet, his desire to be the best freestyler in the world is indicative of the confidence that is now growing in the English team.

In winning the consolation final, Scotland's Bryan Morgan upset his more fancied English rivals by setting the second Scottish record of the day in a time of 50.88sec.

England's second silver came in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay. With Sue Rolph and Karen Pickering in the team, expectation was high. In a tightly-fought race, Australia were pushed to a new Commonwealth record and England set a new British record. Once again Susan O'Neill denied England's hopes of gold as she collected her fourth gold of the Games. She is on course for an unprecedented six gold medals.

But there was disappointment for Adam Ruckwood, the defending champion in the 200m backstroke, when he failed to make the final by just one hundredth of a second. A devastated Ruckwood was at a loss to explain his lack of strength in the latter stages of the race. Fractionally faster in the evening, he will go home to a long period reflection and reassessment.

Canada's Mark Versfeld broke Australia's run of ten straight gold medals, winning the event unchallenged in a time of 1:59.67. The refrain of `Advance Australia fair' was threatening to become repetitive. In a warm up for her favoured 200m metres backstroke, Helen Don-Duncan finished seventh in the 100m and Sarah Price came eighth.

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