Spain: Mireia Belmonte, multiple world and European s/c champion, has yet to decide which of Rebecca Adlington's Olympic crowns she will target as a fourth event at the London 2012 Olympic Games this July. All three of her world s/c title events, the 200, 400m medley and 200m butterfly, feature on Belmonte's schedule for the Spanish Olympic trials in late March but the 21-year-old coached by Fred Vergnoux at Sabadell is yet to decide whether to add the 400m or 800m free to her Games schedule.
On the eve of leaving for warm-weather training in South Africa after having taken a two-day break (25th and 26th) at Christmas, Belmonte told Spanish reporters: "We have yet to decide if it will be 400m or 800m. At European s/c championships (Poland, December) I won the 400m (3:56, second-best ever in textile) but I have to test my level in Olympic pool (50m, long-course). I've not swum that event in a major competition."
After her s/c successes of 2010 and 2011 and personal improvements long-course during that period, Belmonte now has her eye on the ultimate prizes: Olympic medals. "If I continue to improve as I have then I can make finals. Once there, it's easier to win a medal!" She noted the hunger that grew in her when she finished fourth in the 400IM at the world titles in Shanghai last July.
Asked if she could think of any others who would be taking on four solo events at London 2012, Belmonte replied: "It's hard to find anyone who dares to swim four individual events. Perhaps Melissa Franklin, of the United States, but I'm not sure.
Belmonte is working with a sports psychologist in her quest to make the Olympic podium. The key: "To find a balance between swimming and daily life … there are more than Olympic medals among life's choices".
No Spanish-born woman has ever won an Olympic swimming medal, Nina Zhivanevskaya's bronze over 100m backstroke at Sydney 2000 the only time the Spanish flag has flown over the race pool after an Olympic final among women after the Russian switched nationality in the wake of Atlanta 1996.
Australia: Triple Olympic gold medallist Stephanie Rice is in the headlines Down Under for two reasons - her break-up with Wallabies player Quade Cooper and the swim programme run in her name to develop future pupils for a school of dolphins to come. On her relationship with Cooper, Rice Tweeted a hint at why things had gone wrong: "The worst thing about being lied to is simply knowing you weren't worth the truth." Plenty more fish in the sea for Rice no doubt. Meanwhile, she is hoping to help place more fast fish in the Aussie pool through her "Steph's Swim Squad", an online program of training videos, nutritional information and squad updates that are released monthly for both parents and children throughout 2012.
Australia: the country's senior International Olympic Committee member Kevan Gosper reckons that illegal betting could be a more serious threat than doping to international sport. "Illegal betting is potentially a worse assault to the standards and quality of sport than doping because of the volume of money involved," Gosper told the media. It is not a new phenomenon but it is now becoming a serious concern. It is evil in nature and the process can be corrupting to the individual, risking their sporting careers and threatening the proper outcome of fair competition. Law-enforcement authorities are far more concerned about illegal gambling issues than the drug issue." Others have argued for law-enforcement authorities to get more involved in doping issues - and thus prevent the abuse of young folk guided by those motivated by money, among other things, in the same way that gamblers are. Gosper hinted that the risk was greater where one athlete could be got at by the unscrupulous: "Illegal sports betting people can get to a team member and tell them they can make a lot of money from one small element of the game without affecting the team outcome. It is a lot different and a lot easier than trying to get a whole team to throw an event." He believed that it was much harder to detect illegal betting than doping.