ATHENS, Greece -- Petria Thomas overtook Jenny Thompson on
the third leg of the Olympic women's 400-meter medley relay
Saturday night, helping Australia upset the United States in
Giaan Rooney, Leisel Jones, Thomas and Jodie Henry finished in a
world mark of 3 minutes, 57.32 seconds, breaking the record of
3:58.30 set by the United States at the Sydney Games.
Americans Natalie Coughlin, Amanda Beard, Thompson and Kara Lynn
Joyce settled for silver in 3:59.12. Germany took bronze in
Thompson became the most decorated American athlete in the
Olympics with her record 12th career medal, including 10 from
relays. She broke a tie with swimmers Mark Spitz and Matt Biondi
and shooter Carl Osburn.
"This is my last Olympics, so tonight was a little
bittersweet," Thompson said. "The whole week has been a little
nostalgic, so I've been trying to soak up as much as possible. I
had hoped to do a little better here, but I'm pretty proud just to
be here at all."
The United States had won the medley relay for three consecutive
Olympics, and eight of the previous 11 times in the games.
Thompson, a four-time Olympian at age 31, anchored victories in
1992 and 2000.
Coughlin and Beard had the Americans on world-record pace when
Thompson dove in for the butterfly leg. She was quickly overtaken
by Thomas and then Henry brought the Aussies home in record time.
Joyce never made a dent in Australia's lead on the freestyle anchor
Thompson and Joyce had swum the 50 freestyle final 40 minutes
earlier, while the Australians were rested.