Latest news (>May 1999)...
SINGAPORE 04/09/98 AAP - Australian head swimming coach DON TALBOT says dual Olympic gold medallist KIEREN PERKINS is in better form than when he won gold in Atlanta two years ago.
"All I can say is, Kieren's swimming better than he did in Atlanta, and he won in Atlanta."
PERKINS is back in full training with the rest of the 41-strong Australian swimming team in Singapore after his preparation was serverely disrupted a couple of weeks ago by a bout of the 'flu.
TALBOT says although Gold Coast teenager GRANT HACKETT won the world championship in Perth last January, PERKINS is still the world record holder and is 10 seconds faster than HACKETT's ever swum before.
TALBOT says Olympic silver medallist DANIEL KOWALSKI is also swimming well and he wouldn't want to bet on the outcome of the race.
The swimming team will train in Singapore before flying to Kuala Lumpur for the Games on September 8, three days before the opening ceremony.
After spending a few days in Perth, the Australian swimming team for the Commonwealth Games (including Kieren Perkins) has flown off to Singapore to spend time aclimatizing for the hot summer weather of Kuala Lumpur, after the Australian winter.
Kieren Perkins has been suffering from the flu in recent weeks and has just restarted hard work. He says he has lost about 2 weeks worth of training.
The team will arrive in Kuala Lumpur on September 8. The Commonwealth Games start on September 11.
By Janelle Miles
BRISBANE, Aug 14 AAP - Dual Olympic swimming gold medallist Kieren Perkins turns 25 but he was giving rather than receiving today.
The triple world recordholder collected a $5,400 cheque from Queensland Sports Minister Bob Gibbs as part of an incentive program for athletes selected on Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams but swiftly announced he planned to give it all away.
Perkins said he had been extremely fortunate to receive support from corporate sponsorship and would donate the cheque to the Queensland Swimming Association (QAS) for junior development programs.
QAS executive chairman Greg Lalor later welcomed the donation.
"It's great," said Lalor, who has watched Perkins develop from a nine-year-old into a world beater.
"It's good to see him encouraging the younger swimmers coming on."
Perkins will contest his third Commonwealth Games in KL.
By Nicole Jeffery, The Australian, 10/08/98
KIEREN Perkins is in a dangerous mood, and now everyone knows it, including his rivals for the Commonwealth Games 1500m freestyle gold medal, world champion Grant Hackett and Olympic silver medallist Daniel Kowalski.
Perkins' 800m freestyle victory in the Telstra national league final at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre on Saturday dispelled the memory of his post-Olympic struggle.
The New South Wales Institute of Sport team won the title but Queensland's Perkins was reluctantly the centre of attention.
"I'd prefer it if they weren't warned but I think they will have a bit of an idea now of what's going on. What I do in Kuala Lumpur won't be so much a surprise," he said.
He set the world's second fastest 800m of the year in the short-course pool (7:42.85) to defeat 15-year-old world 400m champion Ian Thorpe by 8sec and confirm the claims that his training form now is better than it was before his Atlanta triumph.
Earlier, the extravagantly talented Thorpe had maintained his ascendancy at 400m to defeat Perkins narrowly in 3:46.83, executing surperior turns.
Kowalski is also in better form than he showed at the world championships in January, where he was fourth, suggesting that this year's Games will see a classic to match those in 1990 and 1994.
Hackett's coach Denis Cotterell was a close observer of Perkins and said he never doubted that the dual Olympic champion and world record-holder would find his form.
"I am sure Denis took all the necessary information and will use it to help Grant stay focused," Perkins said.
He said the national distance camp in Singapore last month had been instrumental in raising his preparation to the level necessary to combat Hackett and Kowalski.
"I had better training there than I thought I could and it was interesting to see what the others were like as swimmers. I haven't been around Grant too much and I got a good feel for what he swims like. There are definitely things you can use to your advantage when you know a swimmer."
So was Perkins looking for weaknesses in his opponents in Singapore? "Quite possibly," he said.
And did he find them? "Maybe."
Olympic champion KIEREN PERKINS has clocked the second fastest time in the world this year when he won the 800 metres freestyle during the second session of finals in the Telstra League in Sydney.
PERKINS clocked seven minutes 42.85 seconds to defeat teenage world champion Ian Thorpe who finished in a personal best time of seven minutes 50.81 seconds.
Perkins' time has been bettered only by Italy's Emilanno Brembila at the Sydney World Cup in January this year.
It was evident right from the opening 50m that the small crowd at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre was witnessing a return to the Perkins of old.
"I had a discussion with my coach John Carew before leaving Brisbane and I'm sure he would be quite happy with my split times and the overall times," Perkins said.
"I've certainly been putting in the hard yards and the training camp in Singapore certainly helped my preparation.
"I'm looking forward to getting away for the Games and just to see how fast I can swim."
There was a huge cheer from his teammates and the Australian coaches as a beaming Perkins emerged from the pool.
While coaches on the Sydney International Aquatic Centre pooldeck were abuzz at Perkins' apparent rediscovery of his previously "lost" efficient stroke technique, the master, too, was buoyed at his performances.
Perkins said after the race he was surprised to hear that he had swum the second fastest time this year.
"Of course I'm ecstatic at the time I put in and this certainly gives me great heart for my campaign," he said.
"I had an agenda when I came here today because I don't swim a lot of short-course events and I knew that Ian Thorpe would have the edge on me in the sprint.
An extremely pleased national coach Don Talbot declared after the race: "The King's coming back. "
The swim is certain to provoke a quiver of concern in the camp of his main rival, 1500 metres world champion Grant Hackett.
Despite Perkins' world class form it was not enough to ensure his team, the Queensland Superfish, victory in the Telstra League final.
After the 48 event program, the NSW Institute of Sport Seals ran out comfortable winners 310 to the QAS 258.
The Australian team leaves for its pre-Games camps in Perth and Singapore on August 25.
Want to see the photos I took of Kieren at the Telstra League final?
The Australian, 5/08/98
TAKE it as read that Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett desperately want to beat New South Wales. That burning desire is genetically imprinted on every Queenslander at the moment of conception.
But, having established that trouncing the NSW Institute of Sport Seals is the first priority of the two Queensland Superfish team- mates in Saturday's Telstra National League grand final at Sydney International Aquatic Centre, it is safe to speculate the thought of beating each other might have crossed the minds of the rival Olympic and world 1500m freestyle champions.
They have not met in a race since the nationals in April and, with Perkins starting to swim up a storm, their Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games showdown on September 16 is shaping as their first genuine 1500m contest on relatively level terms.
So, given the need to establish psychological superiority going into the Games, Saturday's shortcourse 800m race at the very venue where the two may battle it out for the Olympic gold medal in 2000 should be a bare-knuckled, blood-in-the- water, take-no-prisoners, name-your-own-cliche fight to the death.
And it would be, too, if they weren't such terribly decent chaps coached by such spiffingly fine fellows as John Carew and Dennis Cotterell.
"After you," implies Carew, politely insisting that Hackett is far and away too much in form for his own modest swimmer – you know, the dual Olympic champion and triple world record-holder – even to entertain the idea of beating him.
"Oh no," responds Cotterell, "after you, I insist." Much as it embarrasses him even to mention it, he feels honour- bound to gently prod memories that young Hackett has had a rather inconvenient dose of the flu lately and might not be at his tip-top best.
Carew replies with a quick counter. "You know Kieren has never been a good short- course swimmer. He just loses his rhythm with all those turns."
Yet Cotterell, who had been groggy at first when woken from a sound sleep for his thoughts, is starting to settle into his stride as well. "I don't want to risk a relapse by working Grant too hard too early. I just hope he gets his health back."
Carew: "Kieren won't be worrying about anyone else. I'll give him times I want him to meet along the way and if he does them I'll be happy. It won't be a tactical race."
Cotterell: "If Grant can win without feeling strapped, all the better."
Good, with a little clever media needling, this is now starting to head in the right direction.
Carew, a low growl becoming discernible in his voice: "Kieren's not easy meat any more, you know."
Cotterell, the faint sounds of distant battle stirring his blood as well: "It's not critical whether Grant wins or loses. But he wouldn't want to lose either."
Yes, this is definitely better. Now, time to turn up the heat. So, John, you're starting to think Kieren can win in KL?
Carew: "He'll have to improve a helluva lot between now and then. I won't know for certain until he starts tapering and even then it won't be until a week out from the race that I'll have any real idea how he'll go. Grant's an unknown quantity. I just don't know how fast he might swim in Kuala Lumpur."
Cotterell, who has some idea: "Anything in the 14.40s we'd be happy with."
Happy? He should be delirious. There's only one swimmer in history who's been in the 14.40s and everyone knows who that is.
A sensitive person wouldn't mention that to Carew. It really upsets him when he's reminded of the only occasion in their long partnership when Perkins disobeyed his direct instructions – at the last Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada. Needless to say, I mention it.
"Don't talk to me about Kieren's world record that day (14:41.66)," he thunders. "If he'd done what I told him, it'd be in the 14.30s."
Yes, all in all, a good afternoon's work. Got the two coaches stirred up. They'll take it out on the swimmers. By the time Saturday rolls around, Perkins and Hackett will come out snarling and spitting like One Nation members making their maiden speeches.
But please don't thank me for making certain it's a great race. It's all just part of the job.
© News Limited 1998
PERKINS FITTER THAN BEFORE ATLANTA
By Janelle Miles
BRISBANE, July 29 AAP - Kieren Perkins has pronounced himself fitter than before his Atlanta Olympic victory and ready to swim his fastest race in two years at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
"I'm sure I'll get under 15 minutes," said the dual Olympic 1,500 metre freestyle champion before a training session at the University of Queensland pool.
He has not broken the barrier since his dramatic race from lane eight to beat Daniel Kowalski in Atlanta in 14m56.4s.
But the 24-year-old realises he must start making some major inroads into his recent times to have any chance of achieving his dream of becoming the first male swimmer to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals in the same event come Sydney 2000.
Perkins took six months off after Atlanta and has struggled to find form since, missing out on last January's Perth world championships.
But the man recently described as being as important to the Australian swimming team as Michael Jordan is to the Chicago Bulls, is looking forward to returning to Commonwealth Games competition - the event which launched his career eight years ago.
Perkins made the world sit up and take notice as a fresh-faced 16-year-old at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth Games, powering to the silver medal behind Glen Housman to become the youngest and only third person in history to break 15 minutes over the gruelling 30-laps.
Four years later in Victoria, Canada, the Queenslander began the most successful three weeks of his career, breaking the world 800m (7:46) and 1,500m records (14:41.66) in the same race.
Fifteen days later at the Rome world championships he swamped the rest of the world to set a new 400 metre (3:43.8) freestyle mark.
All three world records still stand.
This time around, Perkins will be up against Hackett, the hottest new distance property on the blocks after his Perth world title victory in 14m51.9s.
"I think it's going to be fun," said Perkins, who remains the only man in history to crack 14m50s for the distance.
"I'm more than happy with my preparation. We're probably going to see another Australian trifecta. When you consider the race is going to contain an Olympic champion, a world champion and an Olympic silver medallist it's sure to be a good contest."
Perkins admitted he wasn't as race fit as he could be but said this could work to his advantage in Malaysia.
"You don't want to be giving away too much to your competitors in the leadup," he said.
"Overall, I'm happy with where I'm at. A sub-15 is my goal at this meet but as far as how fast I really think I can go, my lack of racing makes it difficult to predict."
PERKINS SHOCKED BY IOC CHIEF
By JOHN LINGARD, The Age 29/07/98
Kieren Perkins admits his initial reaction to the Juan Antonio Samaranch call for a relaxation of banned drugs in sport was more disbelief than outrage.
"I thought this has got to be the beat-up of the century," Perkins said as he prepared for training in Brisbane yesterday. "There must be some mistake in the translation of what he said to the Spanish newspaper."
Perkins stopped short of calling for the International Olympic Committee chief to resign. "Because we have only seen parts of comments he may, or may not have made, it is difficult for me to stand here and say he should or should not go," he said.
"I can only hope and pray he was only talking about maybe streamlining the list a little bit. I think the crux of the issue really is we have a situation where the banned list is a long and very complex list.
"There probably are a lot of drugs on the list which in reality are not performance enhancing in a lot of sports. And when you try and cover all sports under blanket rulings then it is going to get a bit confusing.
"The drugs in sport issue has got to the point now where it is just so incredibly complex. We need a group of people, who from an international viewpoint, can actually stand up and review the list from a sport-by-sport basis and come up with some sort of uniform ruling so that there isn't any more of this conjecture.
"I believe that is what's killing sport right across the world the most. The fact we don't have any set rules. There is too much argument, too much conjecture and too many people throwing their hats in the ring and giving opinions on a subject that really should be cut and dried."
Perkins called for a separate list for each sport. "Take the case of a shooter. They want drugs that are going to slow down their heart rate and allow them to be completely calm in what they are doing. Those type of drugs are going to do absolutely nothing good for a swimmer or a runner.
"As far as I am aware every serious performance-enhancing drug that is available is not good for your health. The first part of Mr Samaranch's proposed plan probably does tend to put the focus a lot more on those serious drugs."
Perkins does not believe the new Samaranch stance will change Australia's attitude or the way our athletes approach drugs in sport. "What some guy on the other side of the Earth has to say about it isn't going to change too much how we feel.
"When you see what has been going on in Australia from amateur sports like swimming, right through to professional sports like rugby league, drugs have really been stomped on."
Perkins suspects Samaranch made his statement because the drugs-in-sport issue has him confused. "There are so many different areas, so many different drugs, differing opinions and so many different sports to contend with. It really has created a situation where you have to be a legal expert and a doctor as well to really know your rights when it comes to drugs in sport."
By David Mason
BRISBANE, July 25 AAP - Dual Olympic champion Kieren Perkins returned to form with a devastating display in guiding the QAS Superfish to a 160-120 victory over the New South Wales Sanyo Sharks in a Telstra League swimming meeting here today.
Perkins won the 800 metres freestyle, an event in which he still holds the world record, in seven minutes 49.65 seconds to defeat his rivals by more than 37 seconds at the Glennie School pool.
The swim was reminiscent of Perkins in his prime and showed that the 1992 and 1996 Olympic champion had returned to top form in lifting the Superfish into the semi-finals of the Telstra League standings.
Perkins then finished a credible third in the 100m freestyle showing he will be a force in the pool when the Commonwealth Games start in Kuala Lumpur on September 11.
To put Perkins' swim into perspective, Commonwealth Games team mate and fellow distance freestyle champion Daniel Kowalski clocked 8m8.47s in winning the 800m at another Telstra League meeting in Melbourne.
Sydney Morning Herald, 26/06/98
He was the only one who didn't put on his name tag, but then, he didn't have to. At yesterday's Olympic Week gathering of 7 of the greatest distance swimmers of all time, Kieren Perkins was king.
It was Perkins who got the most applause. Not Australian legends Murray Rose, John Konrads or Bob Windle. The American Michael Burton and the great Russian Vladimir Salnikov could not upstage him.
The biggest one there, Grant Hackett, was more in awe than awed.
What makes Perkins stand out is his goal of a 3rd consecutive 1500m freestyle gold medal in Sydney 2000.
So how do the golden oldies rate his chances of coming back to beat the giant Grant Hackett and seal his place as undoubtably the greatest distance swimmer of all time?
"Perkins really wants it and he is a big event man," Konrads said.
Rose backed experience over youth, but Windle went for Hackett. Salnikov wouldn't have a rouble either way.
Then while the old boys reminisced, Perkins was into a waiting car and gone.
He has things to do. Medals to win.
24/06/98, The Australian
The great Russian distance swimmer Vladimir Salnikov believes Kieren Perkins can win his third Olympic gold medal in 2000 if he does not "listen to others".
Salnikov was 28 when he won his second Olympic gold medal in the 1500m in 1988, eight years after his first triumph in Moscow.
He is the only man to have won swimming gold medals eight years apart – the Soviet boycott of the 1984 Games prevented him from chasing three consecutive titles.
Perkins will be chasing that unique place in history in Sydney.
Salnikov is perhaps the only man in the world who understands exactly what it will take for Perkins to achieve the ambition he has nursed since he was 16.
"He has good chances but he has to make sure nothing interferes with his climbing to his next mountain," Salnikov said yesterday.
Six of the past eight Olympic 1500m champions, including Salnikov and Perkins, will gather in Sydney tomorrow at an Australian Olympic Committee corporate lunch to celebrate Olympic week.
The others are Australians Murray Rose (1956), John Konrads (1960) and Bob Windle (1964), and American Mike Burton (1968, 1972). New world champion, Australia's Grant Hackett, who hopes to join their exclusive club in 2000, will attend also.
Both Burton and Salnikov were among swimming's oldest gold medallists, well into their 20s and married when they won their last gold medals, as Perkins will be in 2000.
Salnikov was 28 and, like Perkins, had gone through a slump leading into his last Games after a long period of absolute dominance.
"When you reach the top and you see that there's some point to getting to the next mountain, you have to go down and come again. You can't fly across," Salnikov said.
"I want him (Kieren) to see that he hasn't reached his top mountain yet."
Neither Salnikov nor Burton were favoured to win their final gold medals, despite being previous Olympic champions over both 400m and 1500m.
Time magazine dismissed Salnikov thus: "Salnikov's long day as the world's freestyle champion has passed. He can expect nothing more in Seoul than to see the last of his records fall in front of him."
Even the Soviet swimming federation did not want to select him, but was overruled by the Soviet sports minister.
"You have to forget about the rest of the world and do your job. If you listen to others you can tune yourself wrongly," Salnikov said.
"If you are really dedicated age doesn't really matter, it matters only in recuperation. You can't train at 27 as you did at 18, you need longer recovery, but you also can swim less for the same result."
Burton, now a swimming coach, agrees.
"The only reason people quit is because their priorities change," Burton said.
"Remember, athletes always keep something hidden from the public view," said Salnikov, who has a healthy, professional interest in Perkins. "I think that, actually, he has the talent and ability to be a better swimmer than he is now.
"But remember, this is a mental thing. If he decides to go for it, he is going to want to win a medal. He will not go, I don't think, if he cannot win."
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