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Thompson Wins 4th Gold Swim Medal

January 16, 1998

PERTH, Australia (AP) _ Jenny Thompson won her fourth gold medal and Chinese women finished 1-2 in the 200-meter individual medley at the World Sweimming Championships tonight.

Thompson, the meet’s biggest winner, swam the butterfly leg as the United States took the women’s 400 medley relay in 4 minutes, 1.93 seconds, just outside China’s world record. Kurt Grote won the men’s 200 breaststroke, giving the Americans a total of nine golds for the championships.

Thompson of Dover, N.H., who has two events remaining, won the 100 freestyle and butterfly golds and was a member of the winning 400 freestyle relay team. In the medley relay, she teamed with Lea Maurer of Crestwood, N.Y., Kristy Kowal of Reading, Pa., and Amy Van Dyken of Lone Tree, Colo.

Grote, a 24-year-old Stanford Medical School student came into the meet ranked first in both the 200 and 100, a race he won bronze in on the opening night of the competition.

Despite that lofty ranking, Grote said he was surprised to be in the thick of a battle with France’s Jean-Christophe Sarnin, who had led for much of the race, and Olympic champion Norbert Rozsa of Hungary.

``I’m a little bewildered,″ Grote said. ``I saw people all around me and thought I was in the mix. I didn’t realize I had a chance to win, but obviously I did enough to win and now I feel great.″

Grote finished in 2:13.40. Sarnin was second in 2:13.42 and Rozsa another .17 seconds behind.

Sarnin raced to his personal best, giving him a chance to atone for a poor race in the European championships last year in Spain, where he finished seventh and was two seconds slower than tonight’s effort.

``There was a little vengeance in that after Seville because I messed up in the final,″ Sarnin said. ``When I look at the time and see that I am only 2-100ths of a second from the gold, it’s maddening, but it was my best time and I am happy.″

Ryan Mitchell finished fifth, but his Australian record of 2:13.37 in the morning heats was better than Grote’s winning time. Mitchell was more than a second slower in the final. Tom Wilkens of Middletown, N.J., was seventh in 2:15.41.

In the women’s 200 individual medley, world record-holder Wu Yanyan finished first and Chen Yan second. U.S.-based Martina Moravcova of Slovakia was third.

Wu finished in a meet-record 2:10.88. Chen followed in 2:13.66 and Moravcova was third in 2:14.26.

Wu’s victory was China’s third gold medal, after it won 12 of 16 events four years ago in Rome. Chen won the 400 medley and 400 freestyle titles.

Earlier this week, four Chinese swimmers, including three women, were suspended after testing positive for drugs. And last week, one female swimmer and a coach were disqualified from the championships after Australian Customs found 13 vials of muscle-building human growth hormone, a banned substance, in Yuan’s bag.

Australia’s Michael Klim won his third gold, coming within a tenth of a second of his world record in the 100-meter butterfly.

``I wanted to prove the world record wasn’t a fluke,″ Klim said of the mark he set last October in Brisbane during the Australian trials. ``I just wanted to touch the wall first and prove that I’m the best in the world.″

The Polish-born star finished in 52.25. Sweden’s Lars Frolander took the silver in 52.79 and Australia’s Geoff Huegill was third in 52.90.

Olympic champion Brooke Bennett of Plant City, Fla., led qualifiers in the women’s 800 for Saturday night’s final.

Bennett, who won a silver medal in the 400 freestyle, finished in 8:30.68, while Diana Munz of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was second in 8:34.87. Kirsten Vlieghuis of the Netherlands was third.

Defending world champion and world record holder China did not field a team in the heats of the 800 medley relay.

FINA operations coordinator Peter Warden said the Chinese defaulted from the relay by failing to submit the names of their four swimmers within an hour of the start of the qualifying heats.

Although there was no obligation for the Chinese to explain why, Warden said the withdrawal probably occurred because two likely selections for the team _ Zhang Yi and Cai Huijue _ were among the swimmers suspended.

Zhang won the 200 breaststroke at the Chinese National Games in October, and was second in the 100. Cai was second at the same games in the 100 butterfly.

``I’d say the main reason they’re not competing is they’ve lost two of their best swimmers,″ Warden said. ``You can’t lose five swimmers from a team in the space of a week and expect to replace them at such short notice.″

Today in Beijing, China announced it had set up a five-member panel to investigate the latest doping scandal. The Chinese Olympic Committee said the panel would include an anti-doping expert and a lawyer, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

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