Rome 2009, Day 8
Men's 50m backstroke
On the last day that the swimming planet raced each other in bodysuits before a ban comes into force on January 1, Britain's Liam Tancock squeezed into an adidas Hydrofoil and sped to a scorching 24.04sec world-title win in Rome.
Tancock, 24, got a great start, his reaction time the best in the final barring that of Junya Koga, the Japanese winner of the 100m in the lane next to him. What the Exeter-born Loughborough student gained in the first 20m of the one-length race he held on to until crashing into the touchpad for the an emphatic victory.
The clock stopped 0.04sec inside the record that he had established in the semi-finals a day earlier to celebrate his brother Ryan's birthday. Koga added a silver to his gold in 24.24, with defending champion Gerhard Zandberg, of South Africa, on 24.34 for the bronze.
Last place in the Rome final would have beaten the silver medal won by Thomas Rupprath (GER) in 2007.
Tancock punched the air and waved to the stands, where Kim and Tony, his parents were leaping up and down. "It was fantastic. I think my mum will be getting the flowers." His girlfriend and teammate Caitlin McClatchey had got her own, as a member of the 4x200m freestyle quartet that won bronze.
"I knew I'd be in top form, I've been swimming fantasic this week," said Tancock, who quit playing rugby as a winger because he was "a bit small and I didn't like being hit".
He's a bit bigger these days - but he doesn't like to lose. "The whole year I've been where I want to be. It's gone well, the racing's gone well. I've been pretty happy," explained Tancock, who broke the world record in the non-Olympic 50m at Olympic trials last year. In December, Randall Bal, of the US, hit back in 24.33. Tancock said: "This was my time to swim it again and Ive got it back. Pretty fantastic." But plastic fantastic as far as the record is concerned.
The Swimming Technical Committee of FINA will meet before the end of the year and discuss how best to place into context world records established in 2008-09 suits.
Tancock is unperturbed. "In 2010, I want to be the fastest man in the world again, in whatever suit it is, no matter what time. It's just an achievement. The time isn't the b-all and end-all. To be honest, I've really been concentrating on 100m [the Olympic event]. It's great news that things are changing I think that 99% of swimmers are happy about it and I'm one of them."
Good for him.