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Telstra Grand Prix II

Jul 24, 2000  - Paul Quinlan and Ian Hanson


Leisel Jones Sets New Mark

Head Coach Don Talbot couldn't be happier; at last there are some more women to join Olympic gold medallist and world record holder Susan O'Neill as possible medallists in Sydney, and now the female relay teams are looking stronger as a result of the weekend's Telstra Grand Meet II.

The men are obviously working hard and hurting receiving a 'sting' from the Head Coach. Kieren Perkins and Daniel Kowalski failed to compete blaming injuries, which Talbot labelled as the result of ".........imagineitis", a complaint which swimmers under the stress of a high mileage workload are prone to catch. Giaan Rooney a second string 200m freestyler to O'Neill was also in the firing line.

Australian Swimming's "find of the year" and the Olympic swimming team's youngest member, Leisel Jones, today continued her rapid rise up the international ladder on day two of the Telstra Grand Prix Meet at Brisbane's Chandler Aquatic Centre.

Jones, just 14, clocked a time of 2:26.59, the 13th fastest time in history, the third fastest time by an Australian and the seventh fastest time of the year in the women's 200m breaststroke - an event she won't even contest at her first Olympics in Sydney in eight weeks time.

The only Australians to have swum faster than Jones are former world record holder Rebecca Brown (2:24.76) and Samantha Riley (2:24.81) - the fourth and fifth fastest swimmers of all time.

The quietly spoken teenager from Redcliffe, a sleepy seaside city, just 30 minutes north of Brisbane, finished third behind Caroline Hildreth and Brown at the Telstra 2000 Trials in Sydney in May but today, in heavy training, took two seconds off her best time.

As her coach Ken Wood said: "She a 14-year-old and as many coaches know, 14-year-olds are unpredictable - the one thing I can predict is a very, very bright future."

It was a swim Australian officials believe is the fastest 200 metres breaststroke time ever swum by a 14-year-old girl.

Jones will be joined at her first Olympics by Redcliffe training partner, Tarnee White, in the 100 metres - and the determined Year 9 student at the Southern Cross College in Scarborough is content with her lone shot at her first Olympics.

"To be quite truthful I am really happy swimming only the 100 metres in Sydney," said Jones, "I didn't swim as well as I could at the Trials and Caroline and Rebecca deserved their places on the team. I'm sure I will get a few more chances in the future in the 200m.

"This year has just been a dream for me, especially after all the problems I had with my shoulder last year. My mum said 2000 would be my year and so far she's been right."

Meanwhile Susie O'Neill continued her outstanding form, adding the 100 metres freestyle and the 200 metres butterfly to her wins in the 100m butterfly and 200 metres freestyle on day one.


On day one Sydney teenager Elka Graham took the women's team captain right to the wire to go down by just seven one hundredths in the 200m freestyle event; the Olympic champion holding out her younger opponent, 2:00.82 to 2:00.89 A PB by Graham while in hard training looks promising for the already potential medal in the women's 800m free relay.

Today O'NEILL started the program with another close victory over promising teenager, Manly's Elka Graham and 1996 Olympic finalist Sarah Ryan in the 100 metres freestyle and then backed up to add the 200 metres butterfly, leaving Petria Thomas and Nicole Hunter, in her wake.

O'Neill clocked 56.98 in the 100 metres with Graham, narrowly beaten in the 200m by O'Neill yesterday, fractionally behind in 57.04, with Ryan third in 57.10.

In the 200m butterfly, O'Neill clocked a world class time of 2:09.92 - bettered by only five swimmers - including herself and Thomas - so far this year.

"I really needed this competition to find out where I was at with eight weeks to go to the Games and to be quite truthful I am pleasantly surprised," O'Neill said.

Sarah-Jane D'Arcy won the 400m freestyle in 4:13.97 over Elka Graham (4:14.56) and Hayley Lewis (4:17.57).


Australian Swimming's wonderkid Ian Thorpe made an impressive Telstra Grand Prix debut at Chandler Aquatic Centre today after hatching a pre-race plan with fellow Olympian Grant Hackett before the race.

Thorpe, the world record holder and world champion, missed the first Grand Prix in Canberra, after electing to attend a high altitude training camp in Colarado Springs, deep in enemy territory.

But their was a firm message to the US team and the rest of the world before today's race - we're only foxing.

Thorpe and Hackett, the best of mates, agreed to cruise through the first 300 metres of today's 400 metres final, before unleashing their power over the final 100m. The pair, who will contest this event on the opening day of the Olympics on September 15, laughed about their "agreement" after the race.

"I suggested it to Grant," admitted Thorpe after clocking 3:51.20 to win the race, with Hackett (3:52.22) second and Millennium Youth Team member, Josh Krogh (4:01.66) third, "so I suppose I had to stick to the pre-race plan."

"It was all pretty easy actually and a bit of fun but it was good to get in and race after a solid training camp in ther US. Grant and I are good mates and we are both looking forward to racing the 400m together in the Olympics."

But Thorpe also admitted it would be a totally different story, when it came to discussing the pre-race tactics before the Sydney Games.

"That's going to be top secret," said Thorpe, "it will be a different story when we get to Sydney for the big one."

Thorpe has earlier finished fourth in the 100 metres freestyle final, won, surprisingly by Brisbane's Ashley Callus, a member of the Olympic 4x100m freestyle relay squad. Callus even surprised himself, clocking 50.94 to upset Australia's two individual Olympic entrants Chris Fydler (51.21) and Michael Klim (51.22).

"I actually would have been pleased with a sub 52 swim, but to clock under 51, was a real surprise, I'm very happy with that," said Callus, who, like Klim, has just returned from a successful training camp in Hawaii.

In other highlights today: Ian Thorpe added the 200 metres freestyle in 1:49.08, in front of Grant Hackett (1:50.22) and William Kirby (1:51.81) to his 400 metres freestyle win from day one;

Atlanta Olympian Ryan Mitchell admitted he "loved swimming at the Chandler complex" and collected the breaststroke double, winning the 100m today in 1:03.37;

Western Australia's Jennifer Reilly came with a blistering finish to win the 400 IM over a brave Yvette Rodier in a time of 4:49.98 to Rodier's 4:40.10 with Hayley Lewis third in 4:54.40;

Michael Klim cleared away to take the 100m butterfly in 54.05, ahead of Australian team mates Geoff Huegill (55.19) and Adam Pine (55.33); Dyana Calub scored a comfortable win in the 100m backstroke over New Zealand's Monique Robins (1:04.92) and Clementine Stoney (1:05.75);

Ray Hass, who missed the Olympic team won the men's 200m backstroke in 2:01.77 ahead of Matt Welsh (2:03.97) and Millennium Youth team member (2:05.77); Matt Dunn, showed good form to record an impressive 200 IM victory in 2:04.48;

Brett Hawke confirmed his status as Australia's fastest man, winning the 50m freestyle in 23.37, over Sydney University clubmate Chris Fydler (23.40 and 100m winner Ashley Callus (23.44); while Grant Hackett had a "stroll in the park" to win the 1500m in 15.40.33, while Olympic champion Kieren Perkins sat in the grandstand, nursing his injured ribs.