Thorpe will end short of Mark Spitz' record haul

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Mark Spitz' record medal haul went out of Ian Thorpe's reach when he took silver behind world champion and teammate Matt Welsh in Saturday's 100 meters backstro

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:28 IST
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Mark Spitz' record medal haul was out of Ian Thorpe's reach, at least until the next meet, and his next aim was the Commonwealth Games medal marks. Had all gone to plan, Thorpe could have lined up in the medley relay, the last event on the program, still in contention to match the record seven gold medals Spitz won from the 1972 Olympics. But after winning his first five finals, his run ended when he took silver behind world champion and teammate Matt Welsh in Saturday's 100 meters backstroke final. The pair were to combine for Australia in the relay Sunday, and another Australian gold was expected to be a formality. That would give Thorpe his sixth gold in Manchester, equaling the six compatriot Susie O'Neill scooped in Kuala Lumpur four years ago for a Games swimming record she shared with Canadian Graham Smith. He could also match O'Neill's 10 career Commonwealth Games gold medals, the best of any Commonwealth swimmer, if he added six here to the four he won in Kuala Lumpur when he burst onto the international scene as a 15-year-old. Australia had an insurmountable lead in the standings, going into the last seven finals with 21 gold medals. England had 10 gold medals and was next, followed by South Africa with two. The fastest ever lap in the Commonwealth Games pool was on the offing in the men's 50 after the meet record fell twice in successive semifinals. South Africa's Roland Schoeman (22.52) shaved 0.06 off Mark Foster's four year old mark in one semi and Australia's Brett Hawke going faster in the next. Hawke clocked 22.29 seconds, followed by Englishman Foster in 22.45, to set up a classic opener to the last swimming session. Grant Hackett would be back to defend his Commonwealth 1,500 freestyle title. The world champion cruised through qualifying and, if he chose to make an assault on his world record, could finish a length ahead of the field. The men's 200 breaststroke was up for grabs, with Michael Brown of Canada and Jim Piper of Australia dead-heating in the heats at 2:15.21. Petria Thomas powers ahead Petria Thomas was up for a fourth gold medal here when she lined up in the final of the 200 meters butterfly, an event O'Neill dominated in the late 1990s and up to her retirement following the Sydney 2000 Olympics. She led morning qualifying in 2:09.05, more than 2 seconds clear of Canada's Jennifer Button. The world champion won over the 100, picked up a butterfly double by winning the 50 and was part of Australia's champion 4x100 relay team. She was also in line for a fifth gold as part of the women's medley relay team. Australia could pick up another gold in the 400 individual medley, after Jennifer Reilly posted the fastest time in the semifinals, clocking 4:44.57 to be more than three seconds ahead of New Zealander Elizabeth van Welie going into the final. The swimming was expected to finish just in time to allow the athletes to make the closing ceremonies at the City of Manchester Stadium.(AP)

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