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Russians, Americans finish 1-2, 1-2

World champion Denis Pankratov claimed Russia's second Olympic swimming gold medal on Monday, leading all the way to win the men's 200-meter butterfly title.

American Tom Malchow burst through on the final length to win the silver, nipping Scott Goodman of Australia by just four-hundredths of a second.

Pankratov followed compatriot Alexander Popov, who successfully defended his 100-meter freestyle crown by edging out American Gary Hall Jr. by seven-hundredths of a second.

Pankratov, who holds both the 100 and 200 butterfly world records, was never seriously challenged as he swept home in 1 minute, 56.51 seconds, well outside his 1:55.22 world mark. Malchow finished in 1:57.44.

Frenchman Franck Esposito, bronze medalist at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the oldest man in the race at 25, was fourth.

In the 100 freestyle, Popov outstretched Gary Hall Jr. of the United States to win the 100 freestyle in 48.74. Hall, of Phoenix, finished in 48.81.

Gustavo Borges, who won the silver medal in the 200 freestyle, was third in 49.02.

Popov, who is 6 feet 7 inches, got a quicker, smoother start, but Hall, who is 6-6, stuck with him and came off the wall in first place at 50 meters in 23.33 seconds.

In the homestretch, they were so close that it was impossible to tell which one was slightly ahead.

Like Popov, the rest of the 14,000 spectators at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center had to wait for the scoreboard as well.

The two will meet again Thursday in the 50-meter freestyle, where experts give Hall a better chance at victory.