Ryan Lochte of the United States
celebrates after winning the men's 200m backstroke final at the Beijing
2008 Olympic Games in the National Aquatics Center, also known as the
Water Cube in Beijing, China, Aug. 15, 2008. Lochte set a new world record
and won the gold medal in the event in a time of 1 minute 53.94 seconds.
BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- American Ryan Lochte made a strong final dash to defeat reigning Olympic champion Aaron Peirsol, winning the men's 200-meter backstroke with a new world record at the Beijing Olympic Games here on Friday.
Lochte didn't push himself forward until the last lap, touching the wall first in one minute and 53.94 seconds, 0.38 second ahead of his own previous world record.
"I can't even put it into words. It's my first Olympic individual gold medal," said Lochte who always plays the big challenger role in competitions with superfish Michael Phelps and backstroke specialist Peirsol.
"I touched the wall and was like 'thank you, finally.' It felt good the whole way," said Lochte.
Peirsol who bagged home both the 100-meter and 200-meter gold medals in Athens four years ago, had to settle for the second place with a time of 1:54.33, followed by Russian Arkady Vyatchanin in a new European record of 1:54.93.
"You got to break a world record to win, I gave my own," said the 24-year-old Peisol. "Passing (the record) off to him, it seemed a lot of a race. By no means was I disappointed. I'm very proud of what I've achieved so far. but he earned it."
Vyatchanin, 24, stole the opening show by leading the first 150 meters while world champion Lochte and teammate Peirsol both trailed him tightly.
"I'm happy with my time today. I had a fever yesterday with a body temperature of 38.8 degrees Celsius but I feel better today," said Vyatchanin.
Vyatchanin also shared the bronze of the 100-meter backstroke with Hayden Stoeckel from Australia as they completed the race on Tuesday both in 53.18 seconds.
Peirsol dominated the men's backstroke since last Olympics but rendered his title in the 200-meter event at last year's World Championships when the 23-year-old Lochte edged him with world record breaking performance.
Peirsol showed that he was in great form by equaling Lochte's previous world record at the national Olympic trials this July and successfully defended his Olympic title in the 100-meter race with a new world record on Tuesday.
Lochte seemed disappointed after taking the bronze in the men's 400-meter individual medley on Sunday but was cheered up by being a member of the fantastic American 4x200-meter freestyle relay team as they clinched the title by shaving more than four seconds off the previous world record on Wednesday.
The laidback talented young swimmer grabbed his first Olympic gold with the relay team in Athens where he also took a silver after finishing second behind unstoppable Phelps in the men's 200- meter individual medley race.