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Schoeman spoils Foster's party


Roland Schoeman from South Africa stole the menís 50m freestyle gold by just 100th of a second from Brett Hawke of Australia and Englishman, Mark Foster.

Roland Schoeman

Schoeman takes gold in 50m freestyle

The Manchester Aquatics Centre was treated to a thrilling opening race, on this, the final evening of competition at Manchester 2002.

Schoeman (22.33) in adding a gold to the silver medal he won in the 50m butterfly on Thursday, enhances his international reputation in menís sprint swimming arena.

Schoeman said: ďThat was spectacular. Being able to get up and compete against Brett and Mark and race them to the end. Itís amazing Ė we all know each other really well.

ďIíve swum in America with Brett and Mark and I have raced so many times before, to race against friends is something special."

ďObviously thereís a tension to perform well. But itís also so relaxed Ė thereís no hatred or anything like that.Ē

Yesterday, the crowd had been treated to two Games records in as many minutes. Schoeman had beaten Fosterís four-year-old record, only for Hawke to lower the barrier in the second semi-final.

The battle for medals was always going to be between these three world-class competitors Ė the only question was who had the nerve to take gold.

Foster, in his fifth Commonwealth Games looked devastated, but the achievement he has amassed must not be underestimated. Foster has now won medals at every Commonwealth Games for the last twelve years, and will come away from Manchester with two bronze medals.

Crowd favourite Foster commented: ďI felt bad all week. I donít know whether to rest or train through it. Iím very conscious of wearing this suit, and not breathing properly. Iím gutted.

ďIím bigger, stronger, fitter and more experienced than before, and it still wasnít there. Iíve not been feeling too bad, and I was certainly up for it. But Iím just not doing myself justice. Maybe Iíve been racing too much.

ďIíve got to look at it closely and find out whatís wrong.Ē

Speculation over Fosterís future looks set to mount following this result.

Schoeman and Hawke got the better starts, but Fosterís underwater stretch saw him come up in first place.

The next stage was crucial and Schoeman, almost ten years Fosterís junior, clawed his way past into the University of Bath swimmer into the gold medal position.

Brett Hawke took the silver on the strength of his finish, touching the poolside in full flight, with Foster caught in mid-stroke.

Hawke said afterwards: ďI knew it would come down to the touch in the end. I would have liked gold, but it wasnít meant to be. Iím ecstatic with silver, as itís my first major competition with a medal. I was a bit panicky at the start, because my suit broke and I had to rush out and change it. This made me feel a little rushed in the first 25 metres.Ē

Further back in the field, the South African contingent of Ryk Neethling (22.49) fourth, and Nicholas Folkner (23.40).

Englandís Matthew Kidd (22.69), who had qualified as a fastest loser took sixth spot.

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