Steffen upsets Trickett for 100-metre freestyle gold

Germany's Britta Steffen reeled in world record-holder Libby Trickett from Australia to claim the Olympic gold medal in the women's 100 metres freestyle at the Beijing Games on Friday.

Steffen upsets Trickett for 100-metre freestyle gold
Photo: DPA

Steffen, a former world record-holder, had been pushed into the background by Trickett’s exploits over the last two years, but she will leave Beijing as the Olympic champion.

World champion Trickett, who squeaked into the final after the disqualification of China’s Pang Jiaying in the semi-finals, was under world record pace in lane eight before she was caught by Steffen close to the wall.

Steffen’s time of 53.12 seconds, was 0.24 seconds outside Trickett’s record of 52.88, but it was her personal best and was the third-fastest all-time behind Trickett’s two sub 53-second swims.

Trickett was just four-hundredths of a second behind, while Natalie Coughlin picked up her fifth medal of the meet with bronze and equalled the American record in 53.39.

“So many swimmers have swum so well here, so the pressure was gone, the relay was behind me, so I just eased into it without feeling too much pressure,” Steffen said. “I wasn’t expecting a medal, I just focused on myself and sometimes the outcome is not what you expect.”

Steffen, who became the first German since East Germany’s Kristin Otto in 1988 to win this event, said she had wanted to race Trickett in the final.

“It definitely wouldn’t have been the same if she hadn’t been there, I was the record holder, now she has it and you want to race the best,” she said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to win without her there and never known what would have happened if she had been there. She is the world record holder, but didn’t win gold – that is sport.”

The pair gave each other a long embrace over the pool lane ropes seconds after the finish.

Trickett’s world record may be still intact, but she leaves without the Olympic gold at Athens and now Beijing, despite going in as the record holder both times. Trickett was thankful to be swimming the final at all after she capitalized on Pang’s disqualification to squeeze in after a sluggish 54.10 in her semifinal.

“I was ninth after the semi-finals, I was out of the final, so to get put in and come away with a silver is awesome,” said Trickett.


Germany toughens China travel warning over ‘invasive’ Covid tests

Germany has toughened its advisory against travel to China, warning that travellers could be placed under hospital quarantine for weeks upon arrival and subjected to "invasive" medical tests even if they have previously recovered from the coronavirus.

Germany toughens China travel warning over 'invasive' Covid tests
A plane flying from Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

In its latest travel advisory update, the Foreign Ministry said that the stringent measures were imposed on “people cured of Covid-19”, as well as others who test positive for antibodies because of an undetected illness, or others who had arrived on the same flight and who test positive for the coronavirus.

“Medical measures applied by the Chinese side are invasive and include in part daily blood tests and computer scans,” the Foreign Ministry said.

All travellers arriving in China are required to serve a 14-day quarantine at a location determined by the government.

While small children are “as a rule” allowed to spend their quarantine with their parents, those aged 14 years and up can be placed in isolation away from their family.

The Süddeutsche newspaper reported that the ministry had heightened its warning after two German nationals were held in hospital quarantine for several weeks.

Both had recovered from the coronavirus previously and had tested positive for antibodies, added the report, noting that they were nevertheless forced to undergo medical tests.

The newspaper said the Foreign Ministry had filed protests with the Chinese government over how the two Germans were treated.