Olympic Games, London, Day 6 finals:
Women's 200m breaststroke
American Rebecca Soni became the first woman ever to retain the Olympic 200m title with a fabulously well-paced race that left her celebrating the another first, as a pioneer below 2:20, on a world record of 2:19.59.
Having set the world record at 2:20.00 in the semi-final yesterday, Soni, coached by Dave Salo in California, had gold in mind more than time but in focussing on doing what it took to deliver gold, the global standard followed.
Suzaan van Biljon (RSA) turned first at 50m in 32.22, Soni 0.27sec away in second and ready to pounce. Some 7m off the wall she was level, 10m into the second lap she had the race in control.
At the half-way turn on 1:08.10 she was just down on the 1:07.82 that took her to the world record yesterday, and, the spearhead taking good shape across the pool, she ploughed on to clock 1:43.95 at the last turn, just 0.11sec off her day-old pace.
Passion to keep the crown on her head, Soni, in bright pink suit, sizzled to a stunning 2:19.59 conclusion. The silver went to Suzuki Satomi (JPN) in 2:20.72, bronze to Yuliya Efimova (RUS) in 2:20.92, Rikke Moeller pedersen (DEN) locked out by 0.73sec and Canada's Martha McCabe fifth in 2:23.16.
"It's been my goal since I was a little kid to go under 2:20," Soni said, elated. "That's when my coach told me you're going to be the first woman to go under 2:19. I've been chasing it ever since. I'm just so happy."
The splits compared:
In victory, Soni took the USA one gold medal clear of the Soviet Union at the helm of the all-time medals table in the 200m since the event was introduced in 1924.