Malar finishes seventh in 400 IM
SYDNEY (CP) -- Hamilton swimmer Joanne Malar got caught in the wake of a world-record time, finishing seventh in the 400-metre individual medley Saturday night at the Sydney Olympic Games behind gold medallist Yana Klochkova of Ukraine.
While Malar tried to figure out what went wrong, Edmonton's Morgan Knabe was talking about what went right after he qualified for Sunday's 100-metre breaststroke final.
Knabe walked into the frenzied atmosphere of the Sydney Aquatic Centre wearing a green T-shirt that once belonged to his hero, Olympic gold medallist Victor Davis.
"It's kind of something to keep my mind on what I'm doing and what it's all about," said Knabe. "It's a good-luck charm so to speak."
Malar, 24, tried to find some consultation in her performance despite never really being in the race.
"I'm not going to say I'm disappointed, no," said Malar, who finished ninth in the same event four years ago in Atlanta.
"I'm not ecstatic. I made the final, seventh in the world, I'm not disappointed. Would I have liked to have been faster? Yes. I don't think I could ever be fully disappointed in myself with all the training and effort. Sometimes it's just not there the time."
Klochkova won the race in four minutes 33.59 seconds, shattering Yan Chen's former world-record time of 4:34.79 set in October 1997 at Shanghai.
Japan's Yasuko Tajima was second in 4:35.96 while Romania's Beatrice Caslaru took the bronze in 4:37.18.
Ian Thorpe, lived up to his nickname of the "Torpedo" breaking his own world record to win the gold medal in the 400-metre freestyle. The home-town Australian crowd screamed their glee when Thorpe was clocked in 3:40.59. He had set an Olympic record during the morning's preliminaries.
Malar, who now lives and trains in Calgary, was timed in 4:45.17 in the final, over two seconds slower than what she swam in the morning preliminaries.
"I don't know how to explain it," she said.
"I felt good up until the backstroke then my legs were gone. Once your legs are gone you're in a lot of pain. I thought with all the training I was right on track but it didn't happen today."
Malar will look for redemption when swims the 200 IM preliminaries Monday. She comes into the Games ranked fourth in the world in the event.
"I think to have this race over and done with, all of sudden it's downhill from here," she said.
"Sometimes when I concentrate more on the 400, the 200 just happens. It's a little easier."
Malar swam the morning in a full body suit but switched to a traditional suit for the final.
"This morning my legs were tight. I didn't know if it was the suit or me, so I decided I'm not going to chance it and go with what I'm used to. My legs still tightened up."
Knabe was clocked in 1:01.70, just one-100th off his Canadian record, which he set during the Olympic trials in Montreal in May.
"Everybody knows I can swim like this," said Knabe, who swims with ear rings in his ears and a stud in his tongue.
"(My coach said) tomorrow show me something that will make me shiver. Tomorrow night is going to be the night."
The women's 4x100-metre relay team of Malar, Laura Nicholls of Kitchener, Ont., Winnipeg's Shannon Shakespeare and Marianne Limpert of Fredericton finished seventh in their final, behind the victorious U.S. team.
The Americans won the race in 3:36.61. The Canadians were clocked in 3:42.92, good enough to establish a national record.
The woman had advanced to the final after setting a Canadian record of 3:43.82 in the preliminaries. The old mark was 3:44.50. Limpert opened that swim in 55.87, setting a Canadian record for the 100-metre freestyle.
Malar almost quit swimming after the Atlanta Games, where she also was fourth in the 200 IM. She did return to the sport and moved to Calgary where she now trains at the University of Calgary under Jan Bidrman.
She refound her confidence by first winning the 400 IM at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998. Last year she was the gold medallist in the 200 and 400 IM at both the Pan Ams Games in Winnipeg and the Pan Pacific Games.