Australian Grant Hackett's dream for a record third consecutive Olympic title in the Men's 1500 meter Freestyle was shattered as Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia proved faster than the Australian, at the National Aquatics Center, today.
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Mellouli's time for the gold medal of 14:40.84 was an African record.
Against the expectations of many, he stuck with the two fastest qualifiers, Hackett and Canadian Ryan Cochrane, throughout the race and began to pull away with 200m left.
The lead three swimmers Hackett, Cochrane and Mellouli were never near to threatening the world record at any stage of the race with Cochrane turning in first place, at the 800m mark, in 7:51.06.
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It was at the 1100m mark that Mellouli made his move on the leader Hackett. He increased the pace to see if the Australian veteran and world record holder could go with him but Hackett couldn't catch up. From then on on Mellouli pulled away and swam the last 50m in a 28.45 split to ensure Hackett couldn't mount a comeback.
Hackett tried hard to close the gap in the last 100m with a last 50m split of 27.9 but it was not enough and he had to settle for the silver medal in 14:41.53.
Hackett's recent form suggested he could have been able to respond to the challenge from Mellouli but he was unable go with the Tunisian when it was needed.
Cochrane qualified second-fastest for the final in an Americas record 14:40.84 and was with the leaders throughout the race, finishing with the bronze medal in 14:42.69.
Yuriy Prilukov of Russia, who qualified third for the final in a European record 14:41.13, finished fourth.