AOL 'members only' online chat, Jul 2002

Kieren, emerging from the depths

Live Host:  Hi Kieren! Thanks for chatting with us tonight :)

Kieren Perkins:  Hi everyone :)

Live Host:  Let's get straight into the questions.

Question:  What was the highlight of your career?

Kieren Perkins:  Winning gold in Atlanta! I won it in the 1500 freestyle.

Question:  When you watch the Games, do you wish you were still out there competing?

Kieren Perkins:  No! I don't. I wish that I was a part of the village and the team atmosphere but I don't miss the swimming side of it at all.

Question:  Should we be worried about the performance of England at the Games, or is this a one-off because they are at home?

Kieren Perkins:  No, I think we should be worried about them. The English government is spending an enormous amount of money on Olympic sport and we are just now starting to see the rewards from that, and I think there is more to come.

Question:  Do you reckon Grant Hackett wishes he had been born 10 years before or after Ian Thorpe so he could have ruled the freestyle world?

Kieren Perkins:  Hahaha - I think that he might think that in his darkest moments, but really, as a competitor, you don't mind having someone of Ian's standard to race against because it only makes you better.

Live Host:  Miss Byte asks: Kieren - how many more years do you see Thorpe swimming?

Kieren Perkins:  Ian says he wants to go until 2008 and go to the Olympics in Beijing, and I don't see why he can't go that long.

Question:  Everyone is going on about Jodie Henry, who is 18, but Leisel Jones is still just 16 and world class. Do you think Leisel is being undersold?

Kieren Perkins:  No, I don't think so. She has been going now for the last two years, but really, Jodie Henry is new, and we haven't had any strong sprinters before, so it's natural that people talk about her. Australia has been strong in breaststroke for a while so it's not such a big deal.

Question:  Would Ian Thorpe break so many world records if he didn't wear a bodysuit?

Kieren Perkins:  Yes, he would, but maybe not by quite as much.

Question:  Did you think Matt Welsh was a bit unlucky to be disqualified last night in the men's backstroke heats?

Kieren Perkins:  I think he was very unlucky. He was a victim of a poor decision that no one was willing to own up to.

Question:  What does it feel like when you break a world record? Do you feel like Superman? And what's it like when it gets broken by somebody else?

Kieren Perkins:  Hahaha - no, you don't feel like Superman. It's usually the culmination of a lot of hard work, so more than anything you feel relief. When you see your world record broken, it can be disappointing if you are still swimming, but other than that, world records are meant to be broken.

Live Host:  An AOL member asks: How have you enjoyed the disabled swimming?

Kieren Perkins:  I think it has been great. The disabled athletes have been part of the national swimming program for years now so it is great to see them be able to compete internationally with us.

Question:  Do you have any plans to coach in the future?

Kieren Perkins:  No, I don't. Just because I was a good swimmer doesn't mean that I can actually teach anybody!

Live Host:  Kieren, we have lots of members asking how are you?

Kieren Perkins:  I'm very good, thank you!  I am actually at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, watching the football and doing this chat over the phone!  It's one goal all at the moment.

Question:  How do you feel about Thorpe's golden streak?

Kieren Perkins:  I think it's sensational. He's an amazing athlete who keeps surprising us all with his performances.

Question:  Our family really felt you could beat Grant in the 1500m at Sydney - did you really believe you could win that day?

Kieren Perkins:  Yes, I certainly believed that I could win that day, but the reality is that Grant is the next generation of athlete and it was unrealistic to think that I could beat him.

Question:  Do you think Ian Thorpe will beat Matt Welsh in the backstroke tonight?

Kieren Perkins:  No, I don't. Matt is the world champion and he's had a very tough program. I don't think Ian can beat Matt.

Live Host:  DarkMorris asks: How did you get into swimming?

Kieren Perkins:  I learned to swim when I went to primary school. When I was 9 I ran through a plate glass door and severed my calf muscle, and to rehabilitate the injury I had to do kicking in the water.

Live Host:  A couple of members have asked:  What gives Thorpe the edge over Hackett?

Kieren Perkins:  I think it's his big feet and sprint ability. Grant is a 1500m swimmer who is doing the short events, whereas Ian is really a 200m and 400m specialist.

Question:  What's the next few years hold for you, Kieren?

Kieren Perkins:  Hopefully I will be very busy! I am doing a lot of corporate promotion work, and a few businesses that I am involved with, which I hope will take off in the next few years as well.

Question:  I'd just like to know, if there wasn't swimming, what other event would you have liked to compete in?

Kieren Perkins:  I enjoy the cycling. I also really enjoyed watching the shooting the other night.

Question:  Do you have any regrets about retiring?

Kieren Perkins:  No, I have been loving every minute of my retirement and have not once wanted to get back in the water. I still sometimes swim in the surf for recreation, but that's about it.

Question:  What do you think is ahead for Justin Norris?

Kieren Perkins:  I hope that he wins the 200m medley. I think he has a good chance. Hopefully the success will push him to go onto bigger things on the world stage.

Live Host:  I'm afraid that's all we have time for tonight. Kieren, thanks so much for joining us at AOL Live  Enjoy the footy!

Kieren Perkins:  Thank you to everyone for your support while I was competing. I hope you're all enjoying the Commonwealth Games!


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