VDH laughs at Magnini's golden crown
BUDAPEST – At the mixed zone Pieter van den Hoogenband glanced at his competitor at the 100m freestyle, Filippo Magnini. The Italian show off wore the Italian flag around his shoulders and a fake golden crown on his head. With his – also – golden swimming cap (and tattooed crown on his arm) he had just beaten VDH in the 100m finals in 48:79 seconds, thus prolonging his title of 2004. Filippo Magnini earned the nick name “Superpipo”, which actually in Dutch translates as “Super clown". Van den Hoogenband, who finished in third place with 48:94 seconds smiled:
“I only wear a crown like that at the carnival!”
VDH said he would use this image of Magnini to motivate himself to work harder than ever on his 100m. After his hernia operation last year he hasn’t been back to his old form at this event, unlike the 200m, which he won with conviction in Budapest.
"At that event I’m back at the world top. The 100m is, however, a combination of technique and explosive power. I need more time for that. At the Olympics of Atlanta in 1996 I finished in 49:13 seconds (4th place). It took me three years to improve that time. After that, the ball got rolling and I managed to go much faster. But it proves that the 100m is a much harder event than the 200m."
VDH considers his gold medal at the 200m and the bronze medal at the 100m as two worthy prizes at his first international competition after the Olympics in Athens and as a few major steps forward after his operation.
"I’m back on the stage again. The gold is fantastic, the bronze is my motivation to do better. At the 100m I am the two-fold Olympic Champion and world record holder. My goal is to re-claim my ‘throne’ as soon as possible."
If he will reach that goal in the next two years, VDH is still not sure.
"Magnini will not rest on his laurels. The competition will keep developing themselves. We’ll have to wait and see."
The two races in Budapest did offer Van den Hoogenband and his coach Jacco Verhaeren a great opportunity to analyse where they stand.
"We analyzed both races extensively. In certain aspects of the race I’m still doing strange things. The first three or four hits in the water when I emerge were not fierce enough, for instance. I was looking for the right pace more than anything. You can’t do that at the 100m. I also need to work on my turning points to launch myself after each lap. I was merely tapping and turning. Fortunately, my start, technique, breathing, frequency and length were OK."
But what’s more, Van den Hoogenband got through his races without any pain.
"When you’re healthy, you don’t realize that. Now I’m just happy to be able to put on my socks without feeling any pain. I walked around with a huge smile on my face. When I had my back problems, I had to take anti-inflammatories just to be able to assume the starting position. I only felt good in the water, because that wouldn’t hurt my back. Now I’m completely fit and that just feels so damn’ good!"