ATHENS, Greece – Klete Keller (search) narrowly held off Ian Thorpe (search) at the wall to help the United States win gold over the Australians in the 800-meter freestyle relay Tuesday night. The victory gave Michael Phelps (search), who led off for the Americans, his third gold medal of the Olympics.
The Americans won in 7 minutes, 7.33 seconds — a U.S. record — four years after finishing second to the Aussies at the Sydney Games.
The Australian team of Grant Hackett, Michael Klim, Nicholas Sprenger and Thorpe earned silver in 7:07.46. The Italian team of Emiliano Brembilla, Massimiliano Rosolino, Simone Cercato and Filippo Magnini took bronze in 7:11.83.
Michael Phelps had the Americans in front after 200 meters, with Hackett in second. The Aussies dropped to third behind the Americans and Italians on Klim's leg, but Sprenger moved them back to second before Thorpe took over.
Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay kept the U.S. lead, allowing Keller to dive in ahead of Thorpe on the anchor leg. Even though Thorpe's 200 split of 1:44.18 was faster than Keller's 1:45.53, the American was able to hold him off.
Keller was chosen to swim the anchor leg instead of Phelps, who an hour earlier won his second gold medal of the games in the 200 butterfly. The United States retained Lochte and Vanderkaay for the evening swim from the morning preliminaries, when the Americans had the fastest time.
The Aussies saved Hackett, Klim and Thorpe for the final. Australia holds the world record of 7:04.66, set three years ago.
The United States already had avenged its shocking loss to Australia in the 400 free relay Sunday.