Thorpe wins fourth gold; sprint star Collins tests positive

Friday, August 2nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MANCHESTER, England (AP) _ Chasing a world record owned by another swimming great Mark Spitz, Ian Thorpe led the Australian 4x200 meter freestyle relay team home on Thursday to take his total to four golds in four finals at the Commonwealth Games.

Now comes the toughest test for a swimming superstar who has also broken a world record when he attempts the 100 meters backstroke and faces a fellow world champion still seething from being disqualified in the 200.

Matt Welsh couldn't believe it when he climbed out of the water after posting the fastest time to see he had been disqualified for moving early at the start. The Australian protested but lost the appeal and Welsh didn't go in the final.

That could mean he will be even more up for it when he goes in the 100 against his teammate with the heats on Thursday and final on Friday. After that come two more relays and Thorpe, the world's top swimmer, could wind up with six golds instead of seven. Spitz won his seven for the United States at the 1972 Olympics in Munich.

``I'm not as fussed about it as everyone else,'' Thorpe said of his backstroke. ``I tend to swim well in the event, but it's not something I'm prioritizing over anything else.

``I feel a lot better today, a lot fresher. I enjoyed myself a lot tonight. I look forward getting up tomorrow and doing the backstroke.''

Welsh was trying to take something positive from the disaster.

``I get a bit more of a rest now,'' he said. ``It was a pretty heavy schedule anyway.''

Meanwhile, day eight of the games had its first positive drugs test although the athlete involve will keep his gold medal and won't be punished.

Kim Collins, the surprise winner of the 100 meters from the tiny island of St. Kitts, tested positive for a substance found in the medication he takes for asthma. Although the medication has been cleared at previous meets, someone one his team had forgotten to tell officials here.

Games officials announced, however, that he wouldn't face punishment as the substance, used in medication for asthma to make breathing easier, wasn't performance-enhancing and he was basically guilty of not declaring it.

Other gold medalists in the pool were Australians Geoff Huegill (50 meters backstroke), Leisel Jones (200 breaststroke) and Jodie Henry (100 freestyle) and England's Adam Whitehead (100 breaststroke), the women's 4x200 freestyle relay team and James Goddard (200 backstroke). Goddard took advantage of the disqualification of world champion Welsh.

India continued to prosper at shooting, weightlifting, boxing and field hockey and at one stage drew level with powerhouse Canada in terms of gold medals.

India's amazing streak of medals in shooting and weightlifting continued with a 1-2 in the women's 10 meters air rifle final and a victory in men's weightlifting thanks to a blunder by the Australian competitor.

Anjali Bhagwat collected her third gold ahead of countrywoman Suma Shirur, her winning partner in the 10-meters pairs, and Rajyavardhan Singh captured his second as India's medals haul at Bisley increased to 10 golds, six silvers and three bronzes on the shooting ranges.

In the weightlifting arena, India collected four more golds, two silvers and two bronzes but had a little help.

Australia's Damian Brown, already winner of the snatch title, blundered in the clean and jerk. The overall defending champion, he appeared set to win another title in the 77 kilogram division but decided to delay his entry until late to get a better score and wound up failing to lift a weight.

That enabled Satheesha Rai to take the overall gold as well as in the clean and jerk with a lift of 175 kilos.

Welsh weightlifter Dave Morgan, appearing in his sixth Commonwealth Games at the age 37, collected three silvers while 19-year-old Renos Doweiya took Nauru's medal total to eight bronzes by placing third overall and in the clean and jerk.

Pratima Kumari captured two golds in the overall and clean and jerk plus a silver in the snatch while countrywoman Prasmita Mangaraj collected two silvers and a bronze.

India also reached the women's hockey final by beating New Zealand 2-1 while Som Bahadur Pun stopped Veikko Josua of Namibia, stopped in the featherweight (up to 57 kilos) division and will meet Haider Ali of Pakistan, who outpointed Canada's Benoit Gaudet 16-7.

The Australian cycling pursuit team set a new world record in the 4,000 meters in their raceoff for the gold medal against England. The quartet of Graeme Brown, Peter Dawson, Mark Renshaw and Luke Roberts clocked 3 minutes, 59.583 seconds, a fraction faster than the previous record of 3:59.710 set by Germany at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

The biggest upset of the day was England's 2-1 victory over world and Olympic champion Australia in the other hockey semifinal. Goals by Kate Walsh and Jane Smith put the host nation two goals ahead in the first 25 minutes and England held despite a late reply from Louise Dobson.