Golden joy at last for Karen
PUBLISHED: 13:20 26 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010
SWIMMING: IPSWICH swimming star Karen Pickering is celebrating an historic World Championships gold medal after the British victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay was confirmed in Japan this morning.
IPSWICH swimming star Karen Pickering is celebrating an historic World Championships gold medal after the British victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay was confirmed in Japan this morning.
The Jury of Appeal, set up after last night's race in Fukuoka ended in chaos and confusion, have upheld the original decision to disqualify Australia and the United States.
The gold is the first won by the women in the 28-year history of the championships and the first by Britain since David Wilkie's double breaststroke gold in Colombia in 1975.
And thanks to a blistering anchor leg from Pickering, a long-standing member of the Crown Pools-based Ipswich Swimming Club, the quartet also smashed the British record they set in yesterday's heat by 4.27 seconds.
Team manager Craig Hunter said: "We are the champions. Britain is delighted with the outcome – justice has been done.
"The team did everything they could to win the medal. They were the most professional team in the event."
Pickering, who also swam the anchor leg when the 4x100m freestyle relay quartet won silver on Monday, was back in the pool in Fukuoka this morning – no doubt after a sleepless night.
The 29-year-old and relay team-mate Nicola Jackson have made it through to the 200m freestyle semi-finals, with Portsmouth's Jackson setting the equal 10th fastest time of the heats in 2:1.03 and Pickering 12th overall in 2:01.35.
"That was tough after last night," admitted Pickering.
"Now I have to make sure I get some rest before the semis."
The relay gold was confirmed after the Court of Appeal of FINA, the sport's governing body, met for two hours this morning to hear protests from Britain – backed up by Germany – and from Japan and Australia.
Germany were confirmed as silver medallists with Japan collecting the bronze.
The British quartet – Pickering, Jackson, Janine Belton and Karen Legg – originally finished third in 7:58.69.
But they were promoted to silver when first-placed Australia were disqualified after jumping into the water to celebrate the victory before every other team had finished.
And Britain were then installed as gold medallists after the Americans were disqualified for an illegal change-over.
But the American chairwoman of FINA's technical committee said video evidence showed the change-over was legal and that the timing touch-pad must have been wrong, leading the Ukrainian judge to re-instate the United States.
That led to a flurry of protests and forced officials to postpone the victory ceremony and instigate a Court of Appeal.
The Jury unanimously decided that the Australian team had violated the rule forbidding swimmers jumping into the pool before all teams had completed the race.
And they also unanimously upheld Britain and Japan's protest regarding the reinstatement of America.