Part of the 1996 Olympics education kit. The AOC remodeled their website and removed it, but here it is:





Learning Area: Health and Physical Education,
History and English.
Biography: Kieren Perkins
Year: 7-10

•Spirit of Olympism •Australian participation •Fair play •Media •Drugs and politics



•The politics of sport •Drugs in sport •Competitive rivalry •Australian spirit of sportsmanship •Community support

•Sports medicine/Science •Self esteem •Competitiveness •Politics of Olympic bids


BORN: 14th August 1973
TOWN: Brisbane, Queensland.
COACH: John Carew
EVENTS: Swimming: 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m freestyle.
OTHER INTERESTS: Music, movies, driving, boating and jet skiing.

Kieren Perkins is on the brink (if he is not already there) of becoming one of the greatest swimmers in history. He is one of those extraordinary sports people that emerge from time to time.
Australia has a tradition of sport as a culture, and for this reason, Australian sporting champions take on a "Godlike" status ­ as does Kieren Perkins. He was instrumental in Sydney's final bid to the International Olympic Committee in September 1993, in Monte Carlo ­ a representative of the true wholesome image that Australians are proud of. The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) used Perkins in our final bid because of his image. The presentable, young Australian with a big smile and big hopes, who is unaffected and unrehearsed in his enthusiasm for the nation and for Olympic sports. The IOC's immediate assessment was hoped to be influenced by the appeal and natural charm that Perkins brought to the bid presentation. On the AOC's behalf, it was a subtle, yet aggressive manipulation of a political situation ­ the undoubted appearance of politics using sportsmen as political tools.
Perkins is, without a doubt, one of the most approachable and polite Australian sporting heroes. An all round "good guy" he is unaffected by the spoils of fame and success. He is admired, his achievements are monitored by all generations with equal interest, and he happily acknowledges and accepts the responsibility of being a role model to Australia's young.
In comparison, the drugs in sport issue has resulted in the banning of China's swimming team from the 1995 Pan Pacific Games in Atlanta and the admission of the Germans during the 1980's of rife drug usage. This tarnishing of a sport that seems so pure has increased the importance of role models such as Perkins ­ a clean, hard working swimming machine.
Kieren Perkins and success are two aspects of Australian sport that can not be separated. He has set world marks in Barcelona, Edmonton, Auckland, Canberra, Blacktown, Warringah Aquatic Centre, Victoria, Canada and Rome, Italy over a four year period. The list of world marks and venues will undoubtedly continue to grow as Perkins swims on in his winning way Perkins owns the world records for the short and long course over 800 and 1500 metres freestyle, and the 400m freestyle long course. He is also one of the fastest men in the world over 200 metres.
This extraordinary diversity of events would describe him in horse racing terms as a "sprinting stayer" ­ a contradiction of terms in regard to swimming. His coach describes this awesome talent as being the result of motivation, talent and hard work. He is relaxed and focused not in the least bit daunted by 16km a day over two sessions in five hours, six days each week".
One of the features of Kieren Perkins' racing is his ability to get himself ready for the big race. He says of himself..."I can get myself the right amount of confidence before the race and be pumped up, but not too anxious".· Kieren certainly has the temperament to succeed.
Kieren is also a very competitive young man. A German army sergeant, Joerg Hoffmann, at the world·titles in Perth 1991 ­ after winning the 1500m title(breaking the world record) declared..."I am champion of the world".
In Canberra in 1992, Perkins took two seconds off Hoffmann's record. In an interview at the end of the world record breaking race, Perkins leant into the camera to say..."I hope you were watching this, Joerg." So began a fierce rivalry between these two competitors.
Perkins was not a water­baby as one might expect, as when he was learning to swim he did not like putting his head under water. When Perkins was nine years old he crashed through a plate glass door in the family home while chasing his younger brother Jared. This resulted in his left calf being almost severed and requiring 87 stitches. Kieren required an extensive muscular restoration program which led to swimming. Perkins' father had to carry Kieren to the small local pool until he could hobble on crutches. Perkins fully recovered and the coach/athlete relationship began with Carew.
There is an element of "normalness" to Perkins' personality, he, (as do many young males) has a passion for speed both on and off the water. He drives a sports car, owns a jet ski and enjoys the thrill of speed ­ as is evident from his speedy swims.
Like many of Australia's past sporting champions ­ those who follow in their footsteps or achieve success at the same time, are often forgotten. In Victoria, Canada during the 1994 Commonwealth Games, Perkins won the 1500m in world record time, setting an 800m world record on the way. Daniel Kowalski and Glen Housman (both Australians) finished second and third respectively, with very little media acknowledgment for their success.
Australian swimming is undoubtedly our most successful Olympic sport. Role models and characters such as Kieren Perkins ensure that the country supports and follows closely these heroes. It is important, however, that in the wake of these heroes, the other extremely talented athletes are not overlooked. It is part of Perkins' nature to acknowledge and give credit where credit is due, to those people who have achieved positive results. This is a lesson that the Australian community should also take heed of.
The story of Kieren Perkins is, as yet, unfinished. What this champion has achieved in such a short amount of time, only serves to whet our appetites for future greatness.





Students should be able to:

demonstrate an understanding that different cultures and events influence people.

critically discuss the effects of pressurised situations individuals with regard to their own philosophies.

describe how different relationships and issues are important in creating one's individual philosophy and meeting personal needs.


Students will have achieved the outcomes when they can:

•label, on a world map, the places where Kieren Perkins was successful. •indicate, through example, their knowledge of Australia's global relations and the reception Perkins may have received in international competition. •describe the features of international competition that may affect an athlete's performance•describe the pressures caused by success of a sportsman at a young age. •develop strategies for coping with pressures and expectations from the public for a sports star. •detail the types of pressure that are inflicted on a sportsman by the media, and the forms that they take. •compare the reactions of an athlete such as Kieren Perkins to the reactions of an athlete like John McEnroe. •articulate their own predicted response to such pressures. .

write a sustained piece detailing the possible influences affecting the prevalence of drugs in sport, swimming in particular. Use specific examples as argument, eg. China's swimming team in 1994. •compare the issue of drugs with that of hard work in the attainment of success. •describe the role of the media in promoting success using the rivalry between Hoffman and Perkins. •articulate, using gained knowledge , the ways that the above issues have resulted in Kowalski's success being overlooked in Victoria, Canada, 1994.

•present, through collage, Australia's image from a sportive perspective and a cultural perspective. •compare and contrast the above two images with direct relation to politics and the ways in which political leaders manipulate these images for their own use. •describe Kieren Perkins from varying perspectives - in the eyes of: a six year old boy, a seventeen year old girl, a forty five year old man, and a ninety year old lady. •write an empathy piece about Perkins' experiences.

Possible Teaching and Learning Strategies

•variety of media sources •compare and contrast different media reports on the same event

•determine the difference between fact and opinion when using different media •recognise prejudice and bias •write philosophical papers •research how media reports are compiled

•compare newspaper articles that document China's swim team's use of drugs in 1994 •analyse information sources •debate: "Drugs will one day substitute hard work" make deductions from sources to support arguments in regard to empathy and political issues

•research the way that the media affects a person's overall appeal •discuss the work that a promotional manager may do •write empathy pieces •discuss the politics involved in the choice of Perkins as a representative for the Sydney 2000 bid

Newspaper clippings:
Daily Telegraph Mirror, June 27, 1994
Sun Herald, June 28, 1992
Daily Telegraph Mirror, August 26, 1994
The Sydney Morning Herald, August 16,1994

Australian Swimming Inc. (1994) The Swimmer March Issue, Vol 1 No, 1; Javelin Services; Australia. Contact No. (06)257 3255

Gordon, H (1994) Australia and the Olympic Games; University of QLD Press, Australia

Nelson, V (Ed.) The Oxford Companion to Australian Sport; Oxford University Press, Melbourne.



History's greatest distance swimmer

AOC website - Back to The Unofficial Kieren Perkins Website!