Perkins News Archive Olympic Trials May 2000


Olympic Trials: Dawn Fraser says Kieren can do it (19/05/00)

Olympic Trials: Perkins' 200 (14/05/00)

Olympic Trials: Perkins' 400 (13/05/00)

Perkins flattered by public support (12/05/00)

King Kieren flying (11/05/00)

Perkins not focussing on 400 (10/05/00)



Click for largeThough many doubters have said he could not do it, Kieren Perkins has easily made his 3rd Olympic team tonight.

And there was no doubt Perkins was the crowd favourite. During the last few hundred metres, the entire 12,500 strong crowd was on their feet screaming "Kieren! Kieren! Kieren!" even though Grant Hackett was ahead.

Perkins later said he was touched by the crowd's reaction.

"I could hear a lot of noise. I didn't know what the noise was about. To find out that it was me they were chanting for, it's just humbling," he said.

"I wasn't winning the race and I had the support of the crowd. That's something that no-one can ever take from me and it's probably one of the most special achievements of my career."

Hackett seemed confused about the crowd cheering for the 2nd place getter instead of him. Hackett said he thought in a few years (when Perkins has quit) he'll get the support of the crowd.

Kieren's tactic tonight seemed to be to swim at Hackett's feet and stay there, and be pulled through to make the Olympic team. Perkins also seemed to be timing his bursts to coincide with the second 50m legs of each hundred, when Hackett would be unable to see him. On the return to the starting blocks on almost every lap, Perkins would creep up on his rival to bridge the gap to under a body length. Interestingly, Hackett (who has talked about world records and PBs whenever this race was mentioned) swam 16sec outside Perkins' world record. Perkins stuck to Hackett well but in the last 5 laps or so dropped off a bit to clock 15:01.14. He would have preferred to break 15min but it is not a bad time and he achieved his only real goal of this meet which was to get on the Olympic team. He was almost 22 sec ahead of the 3rd place getter.

"I've got another chance now and that's what it's all about," he said.

"It's been a pretty pressure-packed time for me leading into these trials.

"There's been a lot of experts telling the world I didn't have a chance but I knew I could do it.

"Everywhere I go in Australia, the public support's been fantastic.

"I'm really proud I've given everybody the opportunity to cheer for me one more time."

Kieren is aiming to become the first man in history to win 3 consecutive Olympic titles in the same swimming event (1500m freestyle) but tonight he has already made Olympic history. Nobody else has ever had the opportunity to win 3 consecutive Olympic golds in the 1500m freestyle. Perkins was only the 2nd person in history to win back-to-back titles in the 1500m. And even if he doesn't win gold in September, so long as he finishes in the top 3 he will be the first person in history to win 3 consecutive medals in the 1500m freestyle, the most gruelling of swimming events, of any colours.

Speaking of statistics, Kieren is sure to go into the Olympics as world record holder for his event, and he'd like to remind us of one.

"My favourite statistic ... is that in Barcelona there were seven world recordholders in the men's events competing and six of them got beaten...although I'm the seventh and I won," Perkins said.

Kieren makes All-time Greatest Olympic Team

Kieren also made another 'Olympic team' last night.

A panel of experts chose 5 finallists who were the best in Australian history for each swimming event. Visitors to the official Olympic swimming trials site (which received more than 5 million hits during the trials) could vote for who was the all-time greatest Australian swimmer for each Olympic event.

Kieren 'qualified' in first position for the 1500m freestyle, ahead of Murray Rose, and 'qualified' in 2nd position for the 400m freestyle (behind Murray Rose) to make Australian swimming's toughest ever team.

Punters splash out on Perkins

The Olympic swimming selection trials have triggered a world-wide betting splash on Kieren Perkins, who is convincing many critics he can create history in the Sydney pool in September.

A few months ago a majority of punters were backing Perkins to miss out on the Olympic final but now he is in big demand according to leading sports bookmakers CentreBet who held a bundle on the Olympic trials.

One keen Perkins fan who claimed the Alice Springs betting agency for a wager of $9,000 to $1,000 a few months ago about the 26-year-old Queenslander becoming the first male swimmer to win gold in three successive Olympics was feeling on top of the world today.

CentreBet opened odds of Kieren winning in December last year at 10-1 but he's now into 3-1. Such has been the interest, Centrebet opened a 'will Perkins make 1500 freestyle final' option, which has now dropped to a return of $1.45 for your dollar if he does.

 Olympic Trials: Dawn Fraser says Kieren can do it


Click for Olympic trials picsKieren won his 1500m freestyle heat with a leisurely time of 15:35.99, which of course easily qualified him for the final.

"Why waste energy?" Perkins said after his relatively easy swim. "With the heats being condensed down to two, it was never really going to be a tough morning for us. It was just a matter of getting in and qualifying. I wanted to make sure I won the heat comfortably and I did that."

"If he gets into the team, I have no doubt in the world that he'll go on and win another gold medal," said Dawn Fraser, the first person in history to win 3 consecutive Olympic titles for the same event. Only one person has since replicated the feat, and no male, but Perkins is attempting to win his 3rd consecutive 1500m gold in Sydney.

Kieren should make the Olympic team tomorrow, but he has already inspired others at the Olympic trials. Michael Klim said he took inspiration from Kieren's gold medal swim in Atlanta to win the 100m freestyle in a new Commonwealth record, and Kieren's training partner Heath Ramsey, a virtual unknown before this meet, won the 200m butterfly after a pep talk from Kieren and Hayley Lewis.

*LatestOlympic Trials photos

Olympic trials: Perkins' 200


In the 200m heats Kieren swam 1:51.25 (taking time for a beautiful smile at the underwater camera whilst swimming it) to comfortably make the semi finals. In the semi-final he finished 5th with 1:50.67 to qualify for the final. Perkins prefers 30 laps instead of 4 but this is great news for him as he has not made the final of the 200 at Australian Championships since 1995.

"I'm stoked. I wanted to make the final but I didn't think I would. When I touched the wall and saw the time I knew I was close," Perkins said.

"Not only [is this] the strongest national final, it's the fastest. We have six guys swimming under 1:50 in the semi-final. That's amazing."

It was probably the greatest 200m field ever assembled. Kieren trailed for much of the race but in a gutsy effort powered home in 1:50.02 to finish 7th.

Olympic Trials: Perkins' 400


Kieren won his heat in the 400 freestyle this morning, to the delight of the crowd. He clocked 3:55.63 to easily qualify for the final.

However Perkins' entire taper, focus and training is for the 1500m next Saturday. He has been training right through the meet and did a heart rate set yesterday. Perkins withdrew from the final soon after, as did Daniel Kowalski. Perkins can now focus all his energies on the 1500m.

"I'm still in training really for the 1500 and that's the event that I'm training for."

The withdrawal will also keep a veil of secrecy over his form, which could give an advantage if he surprises his rivals in the 1500 next Saturday.

Kieren's heat time would have ranked him 4th in the final. Interestingly, some feel Kieren should have swum the final, as Grant Hackett only swum 3:51. As Kieren swum 3:52 a month ago, he may have been able to make the Olympics in this event. The question is, did Hackett give up in the race against Ian Thorpe? If he did it could be useful knowledge for Perkins.

It is obvious Perkins has a definite plan for these trials. It is believed he planned to withdraw from the 400 even before the Trials started.

Perkins says he is not concerned that he could have qualified for his third Olympics if he had swum the 400 last night.

"That was reasonably obvious to me the moment the race finished."

"I'm not worried about that, I'm not sitting here kicking myself thinking what if," he said.

"I made the decision to go for the 1500, Mr Carew and I sat down after the 400 heat and talked about it, and he felt that for my taper it was better that I didn't swim the 400 last night. I'm happy with that."

Perkins making a splash
The Age

KIEREN PERKINS emerged from the Sydney Olympic pool after perhaps his most impressive 400 metres heat in a major championship since his world record-breaking swim of 1994 and said: ``Ladies and gentlemen of the press.''

Six years after his definitive 400 freestyle world championship win as a 20-year-old in Rome - so often credited as ``the perfect race'' - he still commands a kingly poolside presence.

``That was all right,'' he said as the throng gathered around. ``I just wanted to get in there this morning and have a hard swim. I was pretty much on my own so it was difficult to judge my pace, but I reckon that time should probably qualify me for the final.'' And qualify him for the final it did.

Perkins has defined an era in Australian swimming and owns one of its defining images. He has become the focus of the burning question in Australian sport: can he go where only Dawn Fraser and Hungarian backstroker Kristina Egerszegi have gone before and win three successive Olympic swimming golds?

The answer starts at these trials, and if he does, it will be one of the hardest won medals in swimming history.

With this in mind and with a ``hard swim'' in the bag, Perkins - and Kowalski - promptly pulled out of the 400 final, opting to save himself for Saturday's 1500 freestyle final.

All the talk was of ``Thorpedo'', but what of Perkins' 400 metre performance? What does it mean for his chances of an Olympic qualifying in the 1500, the event he continues to epitomise?

``Not a whole lot at this stage,'' said Perkins. ``I can't expect very much, but to still do a decent time is encouraging. It's one of those mixed things; I'll take lots of positives out of it, but whether they're warranted is a different story.''

``In Atlanta, coming through all the adversity that I did, I mean, I'd never really had to struggle to perform before. That was the first time ... you come out the other side a better person,'' Perkins said. ``It's been a long, hard preparation and I guess I've been busy doing what I have to do to get myself ready.

``Really, the trials has been the first hurdle and the thing I've been counting down for ... (but) things have been working a lot better in the last six months than in the last few years.''

*Audio interview of Kieren after winning his 400m heat, by the Sydney Morning Herald (requires RealPlayer)
*Send Kieren fanmail!
*Latest Olympic Trials photos

Perkins flattered by public support


Of all the compliments Kieren Perkins has received during his stellar career, none have flattered him more than those he's been getting lately just walking down the street.

"The support from fans is just enormous," he said on the eve of the Australian Olympic swimming trials at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre.

"I don't go anywhere without people wishing me luck and telling me they think I can do it at the Games and that sort of support really is special.

"It's not something you can pay for or you can coerce people into.

"People come up to me out of their own free will and offer me that kind of support, which I'd like to think is because they respect me and what I've done.

"It's the greatest compliment I've ever had in my career."

Perkins is the two-time Olympic 1500m swimming champion trying to defy father time and qualify for a third Games.

His win from lane eight at Atlanta ranks alongside Australia's finest sporting moments and a groundswell of public support is building for him to repeat the dose in September.

Perkins was setting his sights on little more than finishing in the top two in next Saturday's final, adding that times recorded were of little consequence.

"We're going to have eight people standing on the blocks in every final over the next eight days and all of those eight people want to go to the Olympic Games," Perkins said.

"Who cares what time you do when if you get first or second, you're going to the Olympics?

"That's something that needs to be remembered in a meet like this."

King Kieren flying

Perkins closing fast on hotshot Hackett


By Wayne Smith, The Daily TelegraphKieren and Hayley Lewis training at QLD University yesterday

The body language said it all. He is back.

Kieren Perkins maintained his silence yesterday as he closed down his Brisbane preparations for the Olympic selection trials. But he didn't need to say a word.

He may not be all the way back -- not to the point of being able to defeat arch-rival Grant Hackett in the 1500m freestyle final at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre on Saturday week.

But he is certainly far enough down that path to give Hackett a reminder that he will face a monumental battle for the Olympic gold medal on September 23.

While there is never any cockiness in the Perkins camp, there is an unmistakable confidence in the air at the University of Queensland pool.

For the first time since 1996, the dual Olympic champion is going into a major meet fully fit, ready to race and, most importantly of all, completely healthy.

Twice over the past two years he has been poised to swim well under 15 minutes only to be laid low by illness at the last moment. This time there is no hint of such trouble.

If Perkins' health holds through next week, Hackett, 20, could be about to discover what competition over 30 laps of the Olympic pool is about.

Unless the mood in the Perkins camp is wildly optimistic, Hackett's unchallenged superiority is about to be challenged and eagle eyes will be upon the young champion on Saturday week, judging how he reacts to the threat.

It did not escape Perkins' notice, for instance, that when Ian Thorpe applied the pressure in the dramatic closing stages of the 400m freestyle at the 1998 world championships in Perth, Hackett fluffed his final turn and was overtaken in the last few metres of the race. Perkins' coach John Carew this week queried whether Hackett intended wearing his neck-to-ankle bodysuit in the 1500m final at the trials.

When told Hackett might swim the race in traditional Speedos so that if he broke Perkins' 1500m world record, he -- not the suit -- would be given the credit, Carew responded: "He'd be very silly to do that."

Asked if he was suggesting Perkins could cause an upset if Hackett did not use the controversial longjohn suit, Carew replied: "We'll see."

Carew's squad was awash with positive vibes yesterday, with Perkins' training partner Hayley Lewis also in buoyant mood.

Ironically, while Perkins might be the last swimmer selected in the Olympic team because the 1500m is scheduled for the final day of the trials, Lewis could be the first.

She lines up on Saturday for the 400m individual medley -- the event in which she was pipped for the world title by one-hundredth of a second in 1991 -- not having a clue what time she is capable of. "It was only six weeks ago that Mr Carew decided I should do some medley training," said Lewis, who is focusing mainly on the 800m freestyle. "I'll either swim really bad -- or I'll surprise myself."


Perkinsnot focussing on 400


Today it was confirmed that Kieren will be concentrating solely on the 1500m freestyle at the Australian Olympic Trials next week, and his preparation has been geared exclusively for the 1500.

Perkins' coach, John Carew, said the Olympic 1500m champion would not go into the 400m fresh and did not expect to show his best form there.

"Kieren will be doing a hard heart-rate session on Friday, which is what he needs for the 1500," Carew said. "He will not be tapered for the 400 or the 200 although hopefully he will show enough in those events to tell us he's on track for the 1500."

For the first time in two years, Perkins is entering a major competition without a health scare. Carew is confident he will perform well if he can stay healthy for another week. "It's only a matter of him not getting sick between now and then," he said.


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Perkins at Australian Short course Championships(23/09/98) 

Perkins' Olympic dream is still alive (19/09/98)

The King never dies (17/09/98)

Humble Kieren hits Viv for six (12/09/98)

Rapt in the flag, Kieren shoulders a new responsibility(10/09/98)

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Perfect Perkins shatters rival's pre-race ploys (07/09/98)

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Birthday boy Perkins gives away money (14/08/98)

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