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Klim Steps Back and Hackett Steps Up

Jun 9, 2000  - Paul Quinlan

Immediately following the Australian Olympic Trials meet on May 1, Micheal Klim wrote to the Australian Swimming Federation requesting that he be permitted to withdraw from the 200m Freestyle event at the Sydney Games.

Having qualified second at the Trials to Ian Thorpe, Klim decided after consultation with his coach Gennadi Touretski, that he would jeopardise his chances in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events if he trained for and swam the individual 200m freestyle event.

Although Klim is regarded as on of the fastest sprint butterflyers of all time and holds a majority of the top ten swims, his dominance of the event is being challenged by fellow Australian Geoff Huegill who qualified for the national team following his close second in the trials meet. Huegill is also the Commonwealth champion in the event after defeating Klim in Kuala Lumpur in '98.

Ranked number one in the current world rankings for the 100m freestyle, Klim and his coach have confidence in his chances at the Olympics. Oddly enough his main competition in the event will come from his training partner at the Australian Institute of Sport, dual Olympic and World Champion, Alexandre Popov of Russia. They even share the same coach.

Michael will swim the 800m free relay for Australia in Sydney. The team has an excellent chance for a gold medal in the event and the members are quite capable setting a new world record time.

Grant Hackett, third in the 200m freestyle at the trials will with Head Coach Don Talbot's blessing swim in place of Klim in the event at the Olympics, adding to his schedule of the 400m, 1500m and 800m freestyle relay.

This triple has been swum previously by Daniel Kowalski who did it in 1996 in Atlanta and managed to pick up a silver in the 1500m and bronze in both the 200 and 400 freestyles.

All Australian team members are currently in a training camp at Maroochydore on Queensland's Sunshine Coast as the Olympic flame commences its journey around the country invoking great spectator interest and a mounting enthusiasm for the Games, following the usual run of scandals and controversies which are now part and parcel of the lead up to each Games organisation. Media now has a new found focus and hopefully the sports loving Australians will now be served up what they are most interested in - the excitement of the worlds' best athletes competing in clean Olympic Games contests in the best traditions of sport.