Aussies set world mark in relay victory

Updated: August 21, 2004, 8:35 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Petria Thomas overtook Jenny Thompson on the third leg of the Olympic women's 400-meter medley relay Saturday night, helping Australia upset the United States in world-record time.

Giaan Rooney, Leisel Jones, Thomas and Jodie Henry finished in a world mark of 3 minutes, 57.32 seconds, breaking the record of 3:58.30 set by the United States at the Sydney Games.

Natalie Coughlin
Natalie Coughlin, second from right, captured her fifth medal in Athens when she helped the U.S. women win silver in the 400 medley relay.
Americans Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Beard, Thompson and Kara Lynn Joyce settled for silver in 3:59.12. Germany took bronze in 4:00.72.

Thompson became the most decorated American athlete in the Olympics with her record 12th career medal, including 10 from relays. She broke a tie with swimmers Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi and shooter Carl Osburn.

"This is my last Olympics, so tonight was a little bittersweet," Thompson said. "The whole week has been a little nostalgic, so I've been trying to soak up as much as possible. I had hoped to do a little better here, but I'm pretty proud just to be here at all."

The United States had won the medley relay for three consecutive Olympics, and eight of the previous 11 times in the games.

Thompson, a four-time Olympian at age 31, anchored victories in 1992 and 2000.

Coughlin and Beard had the Americans on world-record pace when Thompson dove in for the butterfly leg. She was quickly overtaken by Thomas and then Henry brought the Aussies home in record time. Joyce never made a dent in Australia's lead on the freestyle anchor leg.

Thompson and Joyce had swum the 50 freestyle final 40 minutes earlier, while the Australians were rested.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press