German Swimmer Britta Steffen Upsets US Victory Parade | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 15.08.2008
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German Swimmer Britta Steffen Upsets US Victory Parade

Germany's Britta Steffen, who won the women's 100-meter freestyle, was the only non-American to take home a gold medal Friday in the Olympic swimming competition.

The winners' podium for the women's 100-meter swimming competition: Natalie Coughlin (US, bronze), Britta Steffen (Germany, gold), Lisbeth Trickett (Australia, silver)

Steffen, center, beat the world record by 0.04 seconds in the 100-meter freestyle

Steffen took gold with a remarkable comeback that saw her win after lying just eighth at the turn as she managed to overtake the leading Australian Lisbeth Trickett with the last touch, beating the world record holder by just 0.04 seconds.

Third place went to American Natalie Coughlin in 53.39 seconds.

It was the first swimming medal for Germany in the Beijing Water Cube and the country's first Olympic swimming gold since Barcelona 1992, when Dagmar Hase won the women's 400-meter freestyle.

From underdog to gold-medal winner

It took a remarkable comeback during the race to win as she was lying in last place at the turn.

"Before the race my coach told me you need to swim your own race and that the others would start very fast," she said. "I decided to close my eyes and just go for it and I think it worked quite well."

After touching the pad in a time of 53.12, she did not turn around to look at the results board, embracing Trickett, who had swum in the lane next to hers instead.

"At that moment I did not really know what had happened," Steffen said. "I just wanted to enjoy the moment and I thought that even if I did not win a medal, I swam a wonderful race. But then when I looked at the board I saw that I had won and everything was brilliant."

Steffen said after her victory that credit must go to psychologist Friederike Janofske, with whom she has been working for a long time.

"She has managed to bring out the best in me," she said.

The 24-year-old said that she thinks it also helped her that the German swim team had -- so far -- bombed out at the Olympics.

"There was very little pressure on me," she said. "My world record was gone, I had not done well in the relay and nobody really thought I was going to win a medal.

Britta Steffen listens to the German national anthem during the medal ceremony

Steffen disappointed at the 2000 Olympics, but Friday showed that she has what it takes

Gold for three US swimmers

Superstar Michael Phelps set the benchmark for overall medals a little bit higher when he won his sixth gold medal of the competition and his 12th gold overall, to go three clear of four athletes with nine all-time Olympic golds.

Phelps took his world record tally to six with his victory in the men's 200-meter individual medley in a time of 1:54.23 seconds.

American Ryan Lochte won the men's 200-meter backstroke in a world record time of 1:53.94 -- just 20 minutes before winning bronze in the 200 IM -- while fellow American Rebecca Soni took the women's 200-meter breaststroke in 2:20.22 seconds, also in world record time.

In the men's 200-meter IM, the medals went to the same swimmers who also stood on the podium in the same order for the 400-meter IM, with Phelps being followed by Hungarian Laszlo Cseh and Lochte.

Phelps broke his own world record of 1:54.80 that he established at the US trials last month.

"I just wanted to step on it in the first 50-meter a little bit and try to get out to an early lead," he said. "I knew that it was a hard double for Ryan (Lochte). I knew that if I got a big enough lead in the first half I thought I could hang on and that's all I wanted to do."

US swimmer Michael Phelps

Phelps claimed his 12th gold medal Friday

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