Australia’s Christian Sprenger gained revenge for his defeat in last year’s Olympic final when he won the men’s 100m breaststroke gold at the swimming world championships yesterday.
South Africa’s Olympic champion Cameron van der Burgh, who edged Sprenger into second in the Olympic final, was second and Brazil's Felipe Lima third.
Sprenger clocked 58.79secs, ahead of Van der Burgh, the world record-holder, who was just 0.18secs behind, while Lima touched the wall at 59.65.
Having finished second to Van der Burgh in the Olympic final exactly a year ago, the 27-year-old Sprenger took his revenge as he overhauled the South African, the halfway leader, on the return lap.
Van der Burgh’s world record of 58.46secs was under threat at one point as Sprenger accelerated in the final 25 metres to win Australia's first gold in Barcelona.
There was no defending champion in this race as 2011 title-holder Alexander Dale Oen of Norway, a close friend of Van der Burgh, died in April
Meanwhile, Lithuania’s teenage Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte broke the women’s 100m breaststroke world record with a new mark of 1min 04.35secs in the semi-finals.
The 16-year-old, who pulled off a shock win in the Olympic final in London last year, blazed into Tuesday’s final in Barcelona and punched the water repeatedly with delight when her record was confirmed.
She broke the four-year-old mark of 1min 04.45secs, set by Jessica Hardy of the USA during the era when the high-tech swim suits were legal and the petite Lithuanian burst into tears as her achievement sank in.
Meilutyte, who trains in Plymouth, England, is the hot favourite in both the 50m and 100m breaststroke in Barcelona, an unusual position for the blonde schoolgirl, who was little known outside swimming circles just a year ago.
Meilutyte was voted best Lithuanian athlete of 2012 in her home country after her Olympic triumph. Swedish teenager Sarah Sjostrom regained her women’s 100m butterfly world title with Australia’s Alicia Coutts claiming silver and defending champion Dana Vollmer of the USA bronze. Sjostrom, who won the 2009 title aged just 15, hit the wall at 56.53secs.