Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Zealand Swim News

Curtain falls on two fine careers
The curtain came down on two fine swimming careers at the Olympic pool tonight.

Helen Norfolk and Dean Kent, who have become the first New Zealand swimmers to attend three Olympics, announced their retirement from the sport.

Norfolk, who turns 27 later this month, has represented New Zealand since 1997. She won a bronze medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and at the 2005 World University Games, she scooped a New Zealand record three silver medals.

The medley specialist was extremely emotional in announcing her retirement. “It’s an emotional moment,” she said. “Swimming has been my life.”

Kent, who turns 30 in November, is believed to be the oldest swimmer to represent New Zealand at an Olympics. He made his New Zealand debut in 1999. One of his career highlights was his 200m individual medley silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Neither swimmer went out the way they’d have liked tonight.

Kent, swimming in the 200m individual medley, ended up only 21st fastest of the 46 starters, and his time of 2min 01.12s was about a second outside his best. He had estimated – accurately as it turned out – that he would have needed to duck under 2min to make the semi-finals.

Norfolk led off for the New Zealand 4 x 200m freestyle relay team which was travelling well until it was judged that fourth swimmer Natasha Hind had entered the water too fourth-hundredths of a second too soon – swimmers are allowed three-hundredths’ grace.

It was a pity because the New Zealanders – Norfolk, Lauren Boyle, Hayley Palmer and Hind - swam about 7min 57.3s, which would have chopped nearly seven seconds off the national record.

Burmester fourth as Phelps wins
Kiwi medal hope Moss Burmester's Olympic dream was put on hold on this afternoon as he finished a heroic fourth behind the phenomenon Michael Phelps in the men's 200m butterfly final.

Phelps, racing in his signature event, won in 1:52.03, setting yet another new world record in the process.

Getting away to a fantastic start Burmester was in the lead at the 50m mark by 0.03 seconds ahead of Phelps.

By the time they returned to the starting end, Phelps had stolen the lead back by a fraction but Burmester looked on course to push him all the way. Both swimmers were on pace with world record time.

The third length saw the field closing in on Burmester but he looked set to resist them and deliver New Zealand's high point of the Games.

As Phelps powered on in the final 50 metres, Kiwi eyes were on the man in lane one, but it unfortunately became clear that his fantastic effort looked likely to fall just short of earning a medal place. Sure enough Phelps touched first and Burmester, with a new New Zealand and Commonwealth record time of 1.54.35, couldn't quite get there ahead of Hungarian Laszlo Cseh and Japan's Takeshi Matsuda who claimed silver and gold.

Burmester admitted he had left everything in the pool.

"It hurt. I turned at 100 metres and I knew I was right up there. I was hoping to go a bit quicker but I couldn't have done anything more" he told TVNZ.

The Kiwi had been suffered from a stomach bug in the lead up to the race but said he wouldn't be using that as an excuse for his performance.

Soon after Phelps collected his fifth gold medal of the Games in the 4x200m freestyle relay to clock up his 11th Olympic gold.

Meanwhile New Zealand are still left waiting for their first medal.

Burmester should nevertheless be delighted with his performance, being the first New Zealander to reach a swim final since Danyon Loader in 1996.

No comments: