BEIJING Aug 10 Michael Phelps, the first of
his eight targeted gold medals secured, will face a lively
French challenge when he chases the second on Monday.
Phelps, who retained his 400 metres individual medley crown
in world record time on Sunday, looks for his second gold in
the 4x100 freestyle relay in which the second-string U.S.
quartet broke the world record without him.
But France, who rested 100 freestyle world record holder
Alain Bernard, swam just 0.13 seconds outside the new 3:12.23
standard in the second heat and will want to make good
Bernard's boast to smash the Americans.
The Americans, however, will likely bring in their quickest
trio -- Garrett Weber-Gale, Jason Lezak and Phelps, who were
all rested from the heats -- alongside Cullen Jones and will be
confident they can beat anyone.
Before the relay heats, Phelps negotiated his way
economically into Monday's 200 freestyle semi-finals with the
fourth-fastest overall time of 1:46.48, nearly three seconds
outside his world record.
"Tonight was a race to get in to tomorrow, that's all, I
tried to conserve everything, bank as much rest, recover and
get out of here so I don't get too run down," said Phelps.
"This morning was pretty emotional."
Italy's Federica Pellegrini looks ready to put her own 400
freestyle world record to the sword in Monday's final, having
flown through the first half of her heat way inside the pace.
She eased off to 4:02.19, pursued by in-form Briton Rebecca
Adlington who was just 0.05 seconds adrift, with both less than
a second outside the 4:01.53 world mark.
"I tried to go out strong for the first part of the race.
It was a good time, even though I slowed up down the last 50,"
Athens champion Laure Manaudou of France claimed the eighth
and last spot in the final, one place ahead of 2004 silver
medallist Otylia Jedrzejczak of Poland.
A world record is also in prospect in the women's 100
metres backstroke after Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry, silver
medallist in Sunday's 400 individual medley, swam just 0.03
seconds outside the 58.97 mark of American Natalie Coughlin.
European champion Alexander Dale Oen has a great chance of
becoming Norway's first Olympic swimming champion after
upstaging favourites Kosuke Kitajima of Japan and Brendan
Hansen of the U.S. in the early skirmishes of the men's 100
Dale Oen, who led heat qualifiers on Saturday in an Olympic
record 59.41, hit the wall in Sunday's semi-finals in 59.16,
just 0.03 seconds outside the record of world champion Hansen.
"Kitajima and Hansen will definitely come out strong in the
final. I have all respect for my competitors and I know they'll
push me all the way," Dale Oen said.
Kitajima, double Olympic champion in 2004, won his
semi-final in the second-fastest overall time of 59.55.
Australian world champion Libby Trickett goes into the
women's 100 butterfly final, bolstered by the fastest
semi-final time of 57.05, 0.03 seconds ahead of American
(Additional reporting by Martin Petty; Editing by Greg
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