Interview Transcript

As seen on Sportsworld, Channel 7 Network Australia, Sun 01 Aug 1999


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The Interviewer, Bruce McAvaney: I caught up with Kieren at the Grand Prix in Brisbane yesterday. He seemed pleased with his training, but a virus had taken its toll, and teammate and rival Grant Hackett was blaming Perkins for infecting him, and the coach.

Kieren Perkins: [jokingly] Yeah, well, Mr Carew's got it now as well, he can't talk, which is an added bonus, it means I can't get in trouble for anything I do when I swim today. It's going around.

B: Last week he could talk though, and I thought I heard that he suggested - and tell me if it's right - that if you didn't break 15 min at Pan Pacs then you should hang them up.

K: To be honest Bruce, I don't know. I doubt it, he's been with me a long time, and he knows how I'd react to a comment like that. If it's true it's probably time to start walking - but we both know how important Pan Pacs is for me, and that I have to do well, it's a springboard for 2000 but it's not the be-all and end-all of my racing, we've still got - 8 months I think it is - till the Olympic trials, it's going to be a hard 8 months for me, I'm gonna do a lot of hard training between now and then, and regardless of what happens at Pan Pacs I'll be ready in May.

B: It's going to be a great atmosphere for Pan Pacs, in the Olympic pool, in front of a home crowd, it's going to be a great experience not only for you - I know you've been there, done that - but also for the rest of the Australian team.

K: Well, it'll give us the chance to get up and race some internationals while still having the good Australian crowd there - we've had championships there but when you have an international racing meet the crowd gets into it more when there's only a few Australians in each race for them to cheer for, and that sort of atmosphere really does make a huge difference. I'm looking forward to it, and it'll be a good dress rehersal for the Olympics, and hopefully Australia can get up and have some good swims.

B: Susie said some strong things about Chinese swimmers yesterday, about 75% of them not being here, have you got any thoughts on that, you've been fairly vocal in the past.

K: We've got to continue on the fight against drugs, I guess the Chinese will always be pretty suspect in our eyes, because of incidents that have happened in previous years, and you know, we're all waiting for them to turn up at the Olympics with twice as many swimmers as they've had before and all of them breaking world records. You know, we can't be too cynical about it, we have to attack the problem continuously, and I guess not take on the views that unfortunately some prominent ex-athletes have taken recently saying we should legalise some of the not so bad drugs which I would say is admitting defeat, and as an individual I'm never going to admit defeat as far as drugs in sport are concerned. I think swimming and sport right across the board is getting cleaned up, it is a slow process and if we give up now, we're going to loose many years of good fight, and we will find better and better ways of catching the cheats.

B: What about Hackett, you saw him training a week ago, how's he going?

K: [jokingly] Well now he's sick he's not doing to well at all, is he. But, ahh, he really led the way in the camp last week and showed us all what we have to do from a week in week out point of view if we're going to be up there swimming hard next year, but it's always difficult to know what's going on when you get in a camp situation like that, everybody gets a little bit of adrenalin flying around, and wants to I guess do better than the guy in the lane next to them, you get a little bit of a competitive racing thing happening in the pool, which you can't get too worried about how everyone around you is training because it is the 6 months of training around that which is important.

B: Would you say there's the rivalry between you and Hackett like there is between Pat Rafter and Pete Sampras?

K: Ha ha ha... no no, I think Grant and I get along really well, we had a good week training last week, it's good to be training with some of the guys you're racing against because, you know, I don't really have anybody, guys anyway, which have the same work I'm doing, so it's nice to have someone to chase in the pool.

B: Every sports broardcaster, at least once a month, gets asked this question. Do you reckon Perkins will be there in 2000?

K: Heh heh heh!.....Of course I do! It's something I get asked all the time, and I get people asking me because they have people asking them what the situation is, but I've said right from the start that I went on because I thought I had the chance to go on to 2000 and compete in front of a home crowd, and have a shot at picking up a third Olympic gold medal. It's been my goal, it is my goal, and nothing will change that, I still fervently believe that I will be there in 2000, and I'll be giving it my best shot, and believe me Bruce, I wouldn't be putting myself and my family through this hell if I didn't think I had a chance.

B: Well you know we're all with you Kieren, and gee, the wonders of technology, that phone has worked beatifully.

K: Yes, mobile phones and all, very tricky isn't it, thanks Bruce.

B: Well Kieren swam the heats of the 400 about 20 min ater that interview, he qualified 2nd fastest for the final after Ian Thorpe, but that virus caught up with him, and he didn't swim the final. I think Kieren's progress in the next 8 months is going to be one of the big stories in Australian sport.

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