Australia: Sprinter Eamon Sullivan is taking a break from racing this year but on a visit to Corowa at the weekend to help launch a national campaign to highlight and prevent children drowning, he confirmed that Rio 2016 is on his wish list, the 50m free his focus.
He told the Border Mail: "It’s definitely on my list. I just had shoulder surgery in November last year and I’m a couple of days away from being able to get back into the water. I’m having the year just to refresh and get the body back to 100 per cent and I’ll start racing again towards the end of the year. The first race back will probably be at the Commonwealth Games trials but the main goal is getting to Rio."
Asked how motivated he is to last another Olympic cycle, Sullivan replied: "At the moment I’m in a very good place in terms of having balance with my life. I’m working in my cafe, opening a restaurant and still training and doing a lot of cycling and weights. I’m getting my life after swimming set up so having that on the side is great.
"I’m sure once the World Championship trials roll around the competitive juices will start flowing again. The motivation is still there it’s just that it’s been 14 years since I’ve had this long of a break.It’s great to be able to take a step back, refresh the body and the mind and I’m looking forward to getting back into next year at 100 per cent.
Against a backdrop of doping scandal in pro sport Down Under, Sullivan was asked if he felt swimming had a drugs problem. The swimmer said: "To be honest no. You’d like to think there’s not but I guess it shows recently with Lance Armstrong that if you’re that motivated to cheat, where there’s a will there’s a way. I’d like to think swimming is one of the cleaner sports."
The reporter then mentions the powerful builds of "Alain Bernard and Cesar Cielo" and asks "Does it ever make you wonder?" Sullivan replies: "If it creeps into your mind that your competitors are doping it’s just another mental barrier you have to get over so I just try and let my swimming do the talking. Every now and then you do have those swims where you wonder how you’re going to beat these guys because they’re so good. The issue of drugs is going to be a massive talking point for however long. Hopefully if there is drugs in swimming the media attention will make people think twice about doping and will bring a bit more testing to make it better for people who are doing it legally."
Asked about teammate James Magnussen in the context of "disappointment" of silver in the 100m free at London 2012 and no medal in a 4x100m free final that Australia entered as favourites for gold, Sullivan said: "James was quite public with his confidence and he’s a confident guy and unfortunately he put himself in harder situation than what I was in. I definitely felt his pain. You can be as confident as you like but you have to back it up on the day. There’s no doubt he had the potential to win."
Had the Aussie media placed unfair pressure on its swimmers to win at London 2012, the paper asks. "It’s one thing beating yourself up for coming second but when the media and other people beat you up for trying your best it’s pretty disappointing and that’s the hardest thing from the whole experience for me," said Sullivan.
USA: Bob Bowman and Dave Salo will be head coaches for the USA men's and women's teams, respectively, for Barcelona world titles in July and August after American trials in Indianapolis in the last week in June. For the first time, the US will select swimmers for specific 50m events. Bowman has spent much of his time since London 22 and the swansong of his charge Michael Phelps (18 gold in 22 Olympic medals overall 2004-2012) away from day-to-day coaching.
Anti-Doping: The world of Michael Phelps' new passion has come under anti-doping scrutiny three and a half years out from its reintroduction to the Olympic Games in Rio after 112 years. Controversy surrounds the case of golfer Vijay Singh, who said he had used deer antler spray, said to contains insulin-like growth factor-1, or IGF-1, a muscle-building hormone banned by the PGA Tour and banned under the WADA Code. You can read this fine take on events by Karen Crouse, New York Times swimming expert and sports writer. A fascinating insight, once more, into attitudes among people who still, this side of wisdom on Armstrong, Jones and others, insist that a lack of positive tests adds up to clean sport and "no problem" and appear to lack understanding when it comes to just how big the effect of banned substances can be on performance.