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Ian Thorpe (Click for larger image.)

Ian Thorpe celebrates his win in the 200m freestyle. (Credit: , Getty Images)

Thorpe makes history in 200m free

Ian Thorpe has became the most successful Australian in the history of the Olympic Games after winning the men's 200 metres freestyle in Athens early this morning.

Thorpe trailed Pieter van den Hoogenband at every turn but took the lead after surging with 30m to go.

The Australian held the Dutchman off to hit the wall first in a new Olympic record time of 1:44.71 minutes, which is 0.65 seconds outside the world record he set at the 2001 World Championships.

The victory gave Thorpe the fifth gold medal of his Olympic career, taking him past legends Dawn Fraser, Murray Rose and Betty Cuthbert.

When asked after the race how it felt to make history, Thorpe told Channel 7 he was more focused on the task at hand.

"I don't know if I look at it that way - that was a pretty awesome swim and I'm just pleased I swam well in that race," he said.

Thorpe said he was always confident he would swim the Dutchman down, even though van den Hoogenband led for the first three laps.

"He's a sprinter, I've got more of a distance background. I thought I should be able to but just because you should doesn't always mean that you will," he said.

For Thorpe, the result stands as a fitting riposte to those critics who had claimed he had not been the same swimmer since his switch from Doug Frost to new coach Tracey Menzies.

"I think it justifies my decision," he said. "It also means the success that I've had here is greater than what I had in Sydney. I'm really pleased with all of my results. It's just been a tough preparation but the other side [is] I've seen success."

Later Brooke Hanson and Leisel Jones had to settle for silver and bronze respectively behind Chinese winner Luo Xuejuan in the women's 100 metres breast stroke. Matt Welsh had to settle for fifth in the 100m backstroke final.

Also in the pool, Australian divers Robert Newbery and Steven Barnett won bronze in the 3 metre springboard synchronised diving event. It was Newbery's second bronze after his effort in the 10 metre platform synchronised.

Mark Philippoussis crashed out of the men's tennis draw at the first hurdle with a three-set defeat to Belgian Olivier Rochus, but Wayne Arthurs and Todd Woodbridge advanced in the doubles as did Alicia Molik and Nicole Pratt in the women's singles.

In action earlier today, 31-year-old shooter Suzanne Balogh from New South Wales claimed Australia's fifth gold of the Games when she won the women's trap event.

Australia finally put some points on the board in their defence of the women's Olympic hockey title, recovering from a sluggish start to beat South Africa 3-0 and the Opals had a win over Russia in the basketball.

And in more bad news on the doping front, a Burmese weightlifter has been banned after testing positive to an anabolic steroid.

And less than 24 hours after sacrificing her own medal chances to help team-mate Sara Carrigan to victory in the women's road race, Oenone Wood was named as Australia's starter for the women's time trial event on Wednesday.

Related Stories:

Ian Thorpe: our greatest Olympian
Shooting gold for Aussie Balogh
Silver, bronze for Australian breast strokers
Diving gold for Greece, Australia takes bronze
Opals down Russia
Greek sprinters face criminal probe
Lightweight Little boxes on
Hockeyroos and rivals on course for semi-finals
Burmese weightlifter fails drugs test
Welsh comes fifth in 100m backstroke
Scud lost for words at Greek defeat
Molik, Pratt advance in Athens

Related Links:

ABC Olympic site
Full coverage from our dedicated Olympic site.
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Related Images:

Ian Thorpe flanked by Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps during the medal ceremony.

Related Stories:

Ian Thorpe: our greatest Olympian

Shooting gold for Aussie Balogh

Silver, bronze for Australian breast strokers

Diving gold for Greece, Australia takes bronze

Opals down Russia

Greek sprinters face criminal probe

Lightweight Little boxes on

Hockeyroos and rivals on course for semi-finals

Burmese weightlifter fails drugs test

Welsh comes fifth in 100m backstroke

Scud lost for words at Greek defeat

Molik, Pratt advance in Athens

Related Links:

ABC Olympic site
Full coverage from our dedicated Olympic site.

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