AFP MILLENNIUM: "Superfish" Perkins thanks serious accident for superb career
Perkins wants just one more win (16/12/99)
Kieren's Back (12/12/99)
Perkins at U.S. Open Championships (03/12/99)
Kieren wins Noosa ocean swim (07/11/99)
Perkins to swim in USA (19/10/99)
Kieren at Australian Shortcourse Championships (05/09/99)
Several century honours have piled up for Kieren in recent weeks. The Sydney Morning Herald ranked him as Australia's greatest male swimmer of the 20th century, and also Australia's top sportsman of the 1990's. Swimming World Magazine ranked him 6th greatest swimmer of the 20th century, and also the greatest swimmer of the decade.
Plus, Kieren Perkins' 1500m freestyle gold at the 1996 Olympics was recently voted the 3rd most memorable television moment of the century by readers of the Sydney Sun Herald. It was the top sporting moment on the list, ahead of 5th placed Australia II's America's Cup win, and was only eclipsed by the moon landing and Diana tragedy.
All this from a swimmer who has not yet finished his career!
AFP MILLENNIUM: "Superfish" Perkins thanks serious accident for superb career
Copyright © 1999 Agence France-Press
PARIS (December 24, 1999 9:41 p.m. EST) - Kieren Perkins' swimming career started in the most bizarre way, following a serious domestic accident when he was just nine years of age.
Kieren was messing around with his brother while passing by a glass-paned door. The result of this momentary lapse of concentration was 87 stitches in the youngster's calf.
To help him fill his time while recovering, he was advised by specialists to use a neighboring swimming pool.
Having taken their advice, not only did Perkins begin to enjoy swimming lengths in the pool, but he was noticed by a swimming coach.
In 1991, nine years after his accident, he broke his first world record during the Pacific Games - the 800m freestyle during the 1500m event.
Surprised by the reaction of a crowd which applauded his feat, Perkins stopped in his tracks, and after a glance at the time clock, waved to the spectators and continued on his winning way.
The following year at the Barcelona Games, an in-form Perkins (1.93m/87kg) went on to win the 400m freestyle silver medal and the 1500m gold medal (which he retained in 1996 in Atlanta) - knocking 5 seconds off the world record in the process.
Swimming specialists noticed that his time in that event at the 400m mark (3:51.59) would have won him the gold 400m medal in Montreal (1976), and the silver during the two following Olympiads.
Since being married and having become a father, "Superfish" now faces a group of swimmers (mostly Australian) who are attempting to counter his plans to retain his crown until Sydney 2000.
By Dale Paget
GOLD COAST, Dec 15 AAP - Kieren Perkins only wants to win one more race in his life.
He knows world 1500 metres swimming champion Grant Hackett is in his way at the moment, but the dual Olympic gold medallist and world record holder said that would change next year as he bids for a hat trick at the Sydney Games.
Perkins said he would not be putting himself and his family through the turmoil of an Olympic campaign if he didn't firmly believe he would retain his 1500m title in Sydney.
"It's just not worth the effort," said Perkins.
"Winning the gold medal takes the ultimate in life sacrifice and I've been fortunate enough to have done it twice and I honestly believe it's not the sort of thing you do for the hell of it."
Perkins has been plagued by sickness since his dramatic Atlanta Olympics victory three years ago.
He has returned to form this month with his best 1500m freestyle swim in over a year at the US Open swimming championships, clocking 15m07.10s to finish less than 4.5 seconds behind Hackett (15m02.83).
"At this stage Grant would not be shivering in his boots too much," Perkins quipped.
"I've still got a long way to go."
The swim lifted Perkins' spirits and physically he's feeling strong and doesn't believe the spate of illnesses are a sign that there's anything seriously wrong.
"I don't get sick any more than anyone else. Just that when I get sick, it makes the papers," he said.
The next step in the comeback campaign will be to win selection in the Australian team at the Olympic trials in May.
Beyond that, Perkins' mind is fully focused on touching the wall first in the Olympic 1500 metre final.
"There's only one more race in my life that I have to win," he said. "That'll be the day before my daughter's third birthday next year."
By STEVE WADDINGHAM, The Courier Mail
THE message from San Antonio, Texas, was loud and clear.
Newspapers, television and radio in America and Australia shouted: "Hello world, Kieren Perkins is back."
In fact, according to the man himself, Kieren Perkins never really went away.
It just seemed like it.
Perkins' second placing behind Aussie teammate Grant Hackett in the US 1500m championship in 15min 07.10sec – his fastest time since the Commonwealth Games 16 months ago – was hailed as a return from the wilderness.
Back in Brisbane last week, and back to the black-line fever of 70km a week in the Queensland University pool, Perkins agreed the San Antonio swim may have been a wake-up call to his competitors.
But not the ones who really matter.
"It probably didn't mean that much to the Australians," Perkins said, "but the rest of the world, especially the Americans, might have been writing me off a bit after the Pan Pacs.
"But the Australians know enough about me not to write me off just yet."
And in distance swimming at the moment, it's only the Australians who count.
What the San Antonio swim did, apart from provide mild reassurance to Perkins that a sub-15min effort is just around the corner, was prove the folly of rating his Olympic build-up on the basis of his Pan Pacs performance at Homebush in August.
A desperately sick Perkins paddled through his heat in 15:28.43 – only the 6th fastest heat time – and missed qualifying for the final.
Not that it mattered, because he was so ill he would have been forced to scratch had he made the top eight.
"I think some people, particularly the Americans, may have thought it was all over for me after that swim," Perkins said.
"In fact, going into the Pan Pacs, I know that if I had been healthy I could have easily gone under 15 (minutes).
"That's the difference – in San Antonio I just had more work under my belt. Being healthy is a big part of swimming."
Perkins' time in San Antonio was actually better than it appeared.
Perkins – like all the Aussies – went into the meet without tapering and in full training.
"I had no real taper. The getting to San Antonio took two days, which meant two days I was out of the pool, and I trained right through the meet," he said.
By his calculations, that would account for at least three or four seconds, bringing his time down towards his bronze-medal effort in Kuala Lumpur.
"We weren't expecting anything better than about 15:20 and he came up with his quickest time in more than a year," said Perkins' coach John Carew.
"I think it surprised a few people.
"I certainly didn't expect him to go that fast."
Pushed to within 4.5sec by Perkins in San Antonio, Hackett has declared a world record may now be needed to win the Australian Olympic selection trials in May next year.
Talk of sub-14:40 in the trials brings a wry grin to Perkins' face.
It's a time he tacitly agrees he couldn't match – and nor would he want to.
"It may be what (Hackett) will need to win, but it's not what I need to make the team," he said.
"A low 14:50s will get me through and that's all I need.
"Making the team is my only priority."
Perkins shies away from setting up the trials as a match race with Hackett, but in the same breath concedes that he would love to win it.
"It would be nice to win (the Olympic trials), although I don't need to.
"Obviously beating Grant is something I would like to start doing sooner rather than later."
While Hackett will not exactly be despairing at the thought of Perkins' improved form, it does make life tougher for the likes of rising young star Craig Stevens, who may have thought a Sydney Games spot was coming his way.
With Hackett virtually assured of one position, a fully fit and firing Perkins will be a daunting proposition for Stevens and Co.
"Because we have the best three or four in the world, there is probably more pressure on at the trials than at the Games," Perkins said.
"It's pretty much a given that if you have the first spot on the Australian team you are definitely the favourite."
Meanwhile, Dawn Fraser, the winner of 3 consecutive Olympic swimming gold medals in the same event, recently said she favoured Kieren to win the event.
"Let's face it, he's a champion. He knows what he has to do. My money's on Kieren,"she said.
Kieren Perkins snared a silver as part of the Queensland Academy of Sport 4x200 freestyle relay team. They were beaten by another Australian lineup - the AIS team, the same ones which broke the shortcourse record for this event a few months ago - but both Aussie teams well outclassed all others in the final. The QAS relay team included Perkins, Grant Hackett, Daniel Kowalski and Ian Van Der Wal. Earlier in the day Kieren clocked a 3:56.25 400m. "It was a solid, hard swim, which is what we are here for," he said.
"It's very encouraging signs for Kieren," Australian Swimming media director Ian Hanson said.
Perkins won another silver in the 1500m in 15:07.10, a few seconds behind Hackett, neither swimmer near to cracking the 15min mark Kieren was more than 17sec ahead of 3rd placed Erik Vendt and more than 35sec ahead of Pan Pac bronze medallist Chris Thompson. He was very pleased with his time as he is not tapered and in the middle of hard training, and the time is more than 10sec faster than his swim at Pan Pacs where he was sick and lost 3.5kg in 4 days. The swim ranks 4th on the 1999 world rankings. Hackett admitted Kieren's swim had given him something of a scare, as he had expected Perkins to perform badly. Kieren had also expected to perform much worse, predicting a 15:20's swim.
"Kieren showed tonight he's well and truly on the way back," Hackett said later."Kieren is still the world recordholder and I'm not," he admitted.
Perkins, who has been plagued by illness during the last three years of his career in the vital buildup to big meets, said his main objective at the moment was to stay healthy.
"If I can do that, I'm confident I can not only make the Olympic team but win next year and I wouldn't be saying this unless I thought I could do it, and I wouldn't be doing this unless I thought I could win," he said. "If I don't, it's not going to be the end of the world. But I'm not thinking like that."
The 26-year-old said he has never lost sight of his dream of becoming the first male swimmer to win three Olympic titles in the one event.
"It's going to make life a little bit easier because I am a bit more confident," Perkins said.
"When you race bad day in and day out, it's hard not to get disenchanted."
Repeated illness has been his greatest challenge in recent years, frequently attacking him in the lead-up to major competition.
"I have never despaired, I have often contemplated, but never despaired," the legendary champion said.
Grinning as he emerged from the warm-down pool, Perkins said "Obviously I'm now a little more confident."
The elite swimming community understood the significance of Perkins' performance immediately. One national team coach was heard to mutter: "I'm calling CentreBet tonight to get on him."
Kieren Perkins participated in the Eyeline 1000 ocean swim at the Noosa Multisport Festival. The double Olympic champion in the still water, Perkins said before the race he was swimming it to have "a fun race, there's no lane ropes, there's even running involved, which is an absolute nightmare for someone like me." By the first buoy Perkins was well back in the pack but by the end of the swim he was in front. Perkins ran to the finish to claim victory ahead of accomplished ocean swimmers such as Ky Hurst (silver medallist 5km open water swim, 1998 world championships).
1. Kieren Perkins Indooroopilly A 2 0:12:57 1 1
2. Ky Hurst Tugun A 1 0:13:01 2 2
2. David Bates Currumbin A 36 0:13:05 3 3
Kieren was delighted with the win. His next swim is the U.S. Open Championships in San Antonio, Texas from Dec. 2-4. Here he will meet Grant Hackett and possibly Olympic silver medallist Daniel Kowalski. Kieren will race the 400 and 1500 and be a member of the 4x200m relay.
"I have been happy with training for the last six to eight months – I just got unlucky at the Pan Pacs," Perkins said. His coach John Carew told Swimming World he felt team management should have withdrawn Perkins from his Pan Pac events in Sydney after he suffered a debilitating stomach virus that stripped 3.5kg in 4 days off his weight just prior to the meet. Carew said Perkins was making up good ground at training in recent weeks.
In other news, Kieren Perkins' 1500m freestyle gold at the 1996 Olympics was recently voted the 3rd most memorable television moment of the century by readers of the Sydney Sun Herald. It was the top sporting moment on the list, ahead of 5th placed Australia II's America's Cup win, and was only eclipsed by the moon landing and Diana tragedy.
Perkins to swim in USA
With Kieren Perkins leading the way, a squad of Australian swimmers is heading overseas to pit themselves against the best in the world.
Kieren Perkins will head overseas in December as he continues his quest for a third Olympic 1,500m gold medal.
After the Pan Pacific Championships he decided he would go overseas to get as much racing as possible before next May's Olympic selection trials.
His first trip will be to San Antonio, Texas, in December as part of a 16-person Queensland Academy of Sport team for the US Open Championships.
Kieren at Australian Shortcourse Championships
Perkins, still overcoming his illness from last week, thrilled the crowd when he snared the bronze in the 400 with a solid time of 3:52.73 . He did not contest the 1500, preferring to use the time for recovery, and the 1500 was won by Craig Stevens in a time almost 40 sec. outside Perkins' best.
The championships doubled as selection trials for the 2000 World Shortcourse Championships team, however most of Australia's top swimmers, Kieren included, have made themselves unavailable for these championships as they are just 7 weeks before the Olympic trials, and so the team is comprised mostly of swimmers with little chance of making the Olympic team.
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