Veldhuis nearly breaks world record, takes home Euro gold in 100m freestyle

Updated: March 23, 2008, 2:30 PM ET
Associated Press

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands -- Marleen Veldhuis won her second gold medal of the European Championships Thursday, dominating the 100-meter freestyle.

The win came two nights after anchoring the Dutch women to a world record in the 400 freestyle relay.

Veldhuis led from the start and looked on course to break Britta Steffen's world record until tiring in the last quarter of the race to finish in 53.77 seconds.

"I was much too fast on the first lap," she said. "But you simply have to risk that even if you don't clock a world record."

Laure Manaudou of France pulled out of the 800 freestyle early Thursday to concentrate on her backstroke. It paid off when she set a European record of 59.50 in the evening's semifinals of the 100 backstroke, reclaiming the record from Anastasia Zueva of Russia, who swam 59.64 last month to break Manaudou's former European best.

Out of the pool, 50 butterfly champion Milorad Cavic was facing a disciplinary hearing late Thursday for wearing a T-shirt with the words "Kosovo is Serbia" at his gold-medal ceremony Wednesday.

Cavic, who was born and lives in the United States but swims for Serbia, said he meant no harm with the T-shirt, which referred to Kosovo's Feb. 17 declaration of independence from Serbia.

"I didn't do it to provoke anger. I didn't do it to provoke violence," Cavic told The Associated Press. "The country is torn apart and ... my goal was just to uplift them."

Paul Biedermann of Germany won the 200 freestyle in 1:46.59, waiting until the last lap to overtake Amaury Leveaux of France.

Biedermann is one of only a handful of swimmers from the powerful German team taking part in the competition. Most are at home preparing for their country's Olympic trials next month.

"I think this wasn't my last word in the 200 freestyle," Biedermann said.

Gergo Kis won the first European 800 freestyle final in 7:51.94, the 20-year-old Hungarian's first major title. Kis timed his race to perfection, trailing in all but the last lap before overhauling longtime race leader Dragos Coman on the final turn.

World champion Przemyslaw Stanczyk of Poland finished fifth over the distance, which is not featured at the Olympics.

Mirna Jukic of Austria won the women's 100 breaststroke in 1:08.18.

Laszlo Cseh of Hungary successfully defended his 200 individual medley title.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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