Swimming

Caeleb Dressel swims second-fastest 100m free victory in history

American clocks 46.96sec, just off the world record, on a night of fast times

American Caeleb Dressel swam the second-fastest 100m freestyle in history to retain his world title yesterday, as China lashed out at the anti-doping protests targeting Olympic star Sun Yang.

Dressel, 22, clocked a jaw-dropping 46.96 seconds at the world championships in Gwangju, South Korea, pipping Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers to win swimming's blue-riband event in swashbuckling style.

Australian Matt Wilson tied the men's 200m breaststroke world record to underline his title credentials, before Australia set a new world mark in the women's 4x200m free.

The lightning-fast performances helped refocus attention on the pool after a week dominated by protests centring on China's Sun, the triple Olympic champion who is accused of destroying blood samples after a visit from drug testers.

China's head coach Zhou Jihong called the actions against Sun, when Australia's Mack Horton and Briton Duncan Scott both snubbed him on the podium, "harmful" and "prejudiced".

"It is unbelievable and unacceptable that some people publicly defiled the innocence of an elite athlete based on speculation and hearsay," Zhou told Chinese media.

In the highlight of the evening's races, Dressel exploded from the blocks to lead by a body-length at the turn and finished strongly as he bagged his third gold of the week.

"It hurt, it hurt really bad to be honest," winced the tattooed American.

"You don't get that magical feeling every night - you've just got to shut the brain off and go."

Dressel, who racked up seven world titles in Budapest, Hungary, two years ago, high-fived his Aussie rival Chalmers before perching himself on a lane rope to milk the crowd's applause, raising a fist to flag-waving American fans.

Chalmers touched in 47.08 with Russia's Vladislav Grinev the best of the rest in 47.82.

The world record of 46.91 was set by Brazilian Cesar Cielo in 2009.

Wilson won his 200m breaststroke semi-final in 2:06.67 - tying the world record held by Japan's Ippei Watanabe, who also qualified for today's final.

American great Katie Ledecky returned to the pool after pulling out of her 1,500m title defence and the 200m free heats earlier in the week, producing a strong second leg in the women's 4x200m free.

But the Aussies clung on, as Emma McKeon anchored the green and gold to a third relay title of the week in a world-record 7:41.50, with the US (7:41.87) also ducking under China's old mark of 7:42.08. - AFP

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