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Kieren Perkins
(KEER-in)

AUS

Sport: Swimming
Events: 200m, 400m and 1500m freestyle
Birthdate: August 14, 1973
Birthplace: Brisbane, Australia
Residence: Brisbane, Australia
Height: 6-foot-4
Weight: 185 lbs.

Three-peat in sight
In swimming-crazed Australia, Kieren Perkins is a national celebrity. Among the best distance freestylers in swimming history, Perkins won gold at the 1992 Olympics with a world record in the 1500-meter freestyle. Four years later in Atlanta, after barely qualifying for the final, he defended his Olympic title with a performance that will forever be a defining moment in Australian sports history. In Sydney, he and Alexander Popov can become the first male swimmers to win three consecutive Olympic titles in the same event. "I believe I can win in Sydney," Perkins says. "I have faith in my ability to go faster than ever before."

Hat trick potential
Kieren Perkins already is among the most revered athletes ever in swimming-crazed Australia, and in Sydney he'll attempt to enhance his legend by winning gold in the men's 1500-meter freestyle at a third consecutive Games. Among the all-time great distance swimmers, Perkins won the 1500 at the 1992 Olympics in world-record time (which he later lowered). At the 1996 Atlanta Games, after barely qualifying for the final, he triumphed again, with a performance that will forever be a defining moment in Australian sports history. And on May 20, 2000, by finishing runner-up in the 1500 at the Australian Olympic Trials, Perkins earned a chance to become the first man in Olympic history to capture gold in the same individual event at three Games; Russia's Alex Popov has two opportunities to achieve the feat (50 and 100 free). Should he prevail in Sydney, Perkins would not be the first to win titles in the 1500 eight years apart -- the Soviet Union's Vladimir Salnikov won the event in 1980 and 1988, around his nation's boycott of the 1984 Games.

Confidence boosters
Though he has yet to defeat compatriot Grant Hackett -- winner at the 1998 World Championships, the 1997 and 1999 Pan Pacific Championships, and the 2000 Australian Olympic Trials -- Perkins has reason to believe a gold medal is within reach. In December 1999, he swam his fastest 1500 (15:07.10) in more than a year in finishing behind Hackett at the U.S. Open. Afterward, Perkins, a husband and father of two, said he wouldn't put himself or his family through further "torture" of training for an Olympics if he didn't feel capable of triumph. He also is emboldened by the 15:01.10 he clocked in finishing second to Hackett -- by under five seconds -- at Australia's trials in May; it was Perkins' best effort since the Atlanta Olympic final.


 

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