LONDON (Reuters) - Hungary’s Daniel Gyurta was third-time lucky on Wednesday as he powered to gold in the 200 meters breaststroke, breaking a world record and denying host-nation Britain their first male swimming gold in almost a quarter of a century.
Propelled by a deafening roar inside London’s Aquatics Centre, Gyurta held on to beat Briton Michael Jamieson in a desperate finish, to win in a time of two minutes, 07.28 seconds.
Scotland’s Jamieson was just 0.15 seconds behind, after almost drawing level with Gyurta approaching the wall. Japan’s Ryo Tateishi, swimming in the outside lane, was third.
Three-time Olympian Gyurta had won silver in the 200 in Athens in 2004 at just 15, but then slipped to fifth in Beijing.
He has since bounced back with a storming four years, winning the last two European and two world championships.
“I managed to prove to everyone and to myself after those devastating two years after the 2004 Olympic Games that I could bounce back, and do what I dreamed of since my childhood,” said the visibly elated 23-year-old. “It is the biggest achievement of my life.”
In a race that pitted some of the greatest names in the stroke against newer arrivals, Gyurta shaved 0.03 off the record set by Australia’s Christian Sprenger at the 2009 world championships, when the now-banned bodysuits were still allowed.
Gyurta, his competitors said, had been the top challenger.
“His last 50 meters are consistently the fastest in the world,” Britain’s Jamieson said. “He’s been the man to beat over the last few years.”
The race did not go to plan, however, for the breaststroke veterans competing for a spot on the podium.
Australia’s Brenton Rickard finished seventh, while Japan’s Kosuke Kitajima ended almost a decade-long dominance of the stroke, missing out on his last crack at winning a fifth gold medal and on the elusive feat of becoming the first male swimmer to win the same individual event at three Olympics.
Kitajima, hugely popular in Japan, has dominated breaststroke since the 2003 world championships in Barcelona. He went on to win the breaststroke double at Athens in 2004 and Beijing four years later.
In London he had been locked in a race with Michael Phelps to become the first male swimmer to do the three-peat.
When Phelps failed to win a medal in the 400 medley on Saturday, Kitajima got the opportunity to become the first, but he missed the podium altogether in his own first event, the 100 breaststroke, only to miss it again in his second.
Phelps has two more opportunities this week, with the 100 fly and the 200 individual medley.
“I swam my own race,” Kitajima said. “I have no regrets.”
Additional reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Greg Stutchbury