Fukuoka, Japan Ian Thorpe savored his sixth gold medal of the World Swimming Championships Saturday, while the United States team was embarrassed by another disqualification.
In one of the most dramatic races of the meet, the "Thorpedo" barely beat American Anthony Ervin at the end of the 400-meter medley relay.
Then the Americans were disqualified for an early takeoff by Ervin. It was their third disqualification in five relays so far. National team director Dennis Pursley acknowledged that Ervin jumped too soon.
So instead of a .07-second victory over the Americans, the Aussies ended up with a nearly one-second margin over silver medalist Germany.
The victory capped a three-gold night for Australia, which led with 11 golds to nine for the Americans with one day left.
Thorpe became the first man in nine World Championships to win six golds. He finished with three relay golds plus victories and world records in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle races.
The United States salvaged some pride when Natalie Coughlin, recovered from shoulder problems that troubled her for two years, ended the backstroke winning streak of Romania's Diana Mocanu, beating her by 0.31 seconds over 100 meters. Mocanu had won both the 100 and 200 at the Olympics and the 200 here.