Quotable Quotes

About Kieren - By Kieren

About Kieren Perkins...

"He's just such a great champion! Everyone in Australia should get up in the morning and kiss the ground he walks on! He is the greatest swimmer in history and the greatest person as well. Australia is very lucky to have him."

- Olympic swimmer Hayley Lewis, after Kieren Perkins had just won his second consecutive Olympic 1500m freestyle gold medal.

"Without a doubt the greatest swimmer in history"

-Mark Spitz's coach, Jim Counselman

"He's an alien. I can't compete with him."

- German swimmer Jorg Hoffman after Kieren Perkins had beaten him in the 1500m freestyle by 20 seconds in a new world record at the 1992 Olympics.

"Who knows what genetic goblins conspired to produce his eel like body and albatross wings, but he has a strength which comes not from the weight room, but from within."

- A journalist in the newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald in an article titled: Perkins, the man with the Pentium mind.

"It's no shame Danyon finished third to the best middle distance swimmer ever"

-Danyon Loader's coach after Kieren beat him at the 1994 World Championships.

"Perkins was dominating the distance events and setting world records virtually every time he hit the pool. It sort of freaked me out and I couldn't function. He was just so huge, awesome, I felt there was no place for me and I just caved in"

- Duncan Armstrong, Australian swimming Olympic gold medalist in 1988, on why he quit the sport

"It's the best thing that's ever happened to me"

-Triple Commonwealth gold medallist Cara Honeychurch, on meeting Kieren Perkins in the athlete's village.

"Not to worry. All you have to do is smile."

- The only advice the Sydney 2000 bid presentation specialist had to give the photogenic Perkins for his speech to the IOC.

"Kieren Perkins epitomises the Australian who lives in so many of our hearts. He is the face of Australia. Kieren is the Australian we want to hang on to. The Australian so many of us admire...So towering are Kieren's talents that he may well become the greatest swimmer this country has ever produced. But there's something more to this young man than just his swimming...Kieren Perkins made me feel not only extremely proud to be an Australian. Kieren Perkins made me feel both privileged and proud to have an Australian of his calibre out there representing me. If the world is going to see what an Australian is like, if there is a picture of an Australian we'd like shown around the globe, Kieren Perkins represents that image."

- From an article written by Mike Gibson after Kieren had won 400m gold at the 1994 Commonwealth Games

"The Michael Jordan of Australia."

-Australian head coach Don Talbot

"When I first saw Kieren Perkins he wasn't a good specimen at all. He wasn't tall. He looked undernourished actually. He was down on one shoulder, and he was fatter on one side of his body than the other. But he was a good kid, a willing kid, and I wanted to help him."

-Kieren's coach John Carew describes meeting 8-year-old Kieren after his glass door accident.

"I think you look at any successful team, like the Chicago Bulls. Without Michael Jordan the Chicago Bulls are not as good. That's the kind of person Kieren is. Without him the Australian team is not as good. He has that aura about him. He does incredible things and that brings out the best in everyone."

- Daniel Kowalski, Olympic 1500m silver medallist.

"I think he is the reason why all this is happening ... He let Australian swimmers know that we could swim at that level, that we could mix it with the best. If I wanted to make a team, if I wanted to win a medal, I had to chase him. But there was also the way he handled himself. That (400 world record) race ... the fact that it went from 3.45.00 to 3:43.8, but also the way in which he swam it. He went right from the start, and then he was able to bring it home. But also he demoralised the whole field, and it was in a world championship final.''

- Daniel again, on how Kieren led the revival of the Australian swimming team

"No one has interviewed Hackett without mentioning Perkins. No one has mentioned Sydney 2000 without the word Kieren in the same sentence."

-Daily Telegraph journalist Mike Coleman, in an article during the 2000 Olympics.

"Kieren has already earnt his stripes for being a legend. There's not too many [only one other] people who have won back to back 1500m titles at the Olympic level. It's a tough feat, particularly the way he did that in Atlanta. That swim alone puts him into legend category. Apart from what he's done in the pool, he's such a magnificent spokesman for swimming and for Australia and I think he has probably created more excitement around the 1500m race than any other swimmer in history."

- Distance swimming great Murray Rose, in response to Kieren saying he wouldn't rank as a swimming great unless he wins gold in Sydney.

Media personality Tracey Holmes' favourite Olympic moment: "I saw Kieren Perkins win his first gold medal in Barcelona 1992... You know how people talk about moments that are suspended in time, and how they happen in slow motion. I remember every single lap he swam and the announcer would say 'now he's this much under the world record' and he'd swim another lap and he'd say 'now he's this much under the world record' and the whole crowd was just going beserk. You look around and see people from every different country, every different culture and they're all cheering for the one person. I think that's pretty phernomenal. There's not too many things in life that unite the whole world."

"Kieren is a legend not only for his performance but the influence he has had on other swimmers, people and the sport has been like nobody else. Take a look around, swimming is like it is because Kieren made it that way and everyone has followed."

- Daniel Kowalski again

"Most Australians can't remember their mother's birthday but everyone knows where they were the day Perkins won in Atlanta, splashing his way to victory from the outside lane. Young mothers named their first-born sons after him, men who could shear 150 sheep a day and drink three gallons of beer a night broke down in tears. Perkins' triumph was immortalised at last week's opening ceremony for Sydney when a flag as big as football field was draped over the crowd showing his reaction after winning in Atlanta."

-Reuters attempts to make some sense of Perkins-mania.

"You only have to know one thing. Kieren changed everything."

-Australian head coach Don Talbot, on how Kieren revolutionised Australian swimming to again be a world power.

Kieren (right) and Daniel Kowalski after Kieren won the 1500m freestyle at the 1996 Olympics

Kieren PerkinsWhat Kieren Said...

"But I just had to do it. I don't think it would have mattered if one of my arms fell off, I just had to get after it."

- Kieren just after his 1996 1500m freestyle Olympic gold medal

" Hey, if I can win here, I can win anywhere!"

-Kieren after his gold medal 1996 Olympic swim, asked if he will win in Sydney 2000.

"Don't ever give up, because the people who give up are the people who don't achieve."

- Kieren on why you should never give up.

"I had this great aversion to putting my head in the water, you know, face down, and the coach used to walk along the edge of the pool with a broom and sort of pushing my head under as we were going along, and they weren't pleasant memories I have to say. And it got to the point where we'd learn with these big foam kickboards and every few weeks we'd progress along and he'd break it in half, so you'd have a little bit less kickboard to float with, until it got to the point where I had, like, an inch square piece of foam. But I wouldn't go near the water if I didn't have that piece of foam in my hand."

-Young Kieren not taking to the pool like a Superfish to water.

"Negativity is a great distracter, a great destroyer of a person's motivation and their ability to perform at their best level"

- Kieren making a speech.

"I smiled. I thought what a beautiful feeling ... I am just so happy.''

- Kieren after breaking 2 world records in the one swim at the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

"The Olympic games are what we train for, what we focus on, what we live for. They start with the flame being lit and they end when the flame is put out. And in between is the most important test of our careers."

- Kieren sounding poetic

"Tomorrow's a new day, you will have another chance and one of the things that you really do have to believe is that just because today's gone bad, doesn't mean tomorrow's gonna be bad."

-Words of wisdom from Kieren.

"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. 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."

- Kieren commenting on the 1500m race at the 2000 Australian Olympic Trials, where in the last few hundred metres the entire 12,500 strong crowd was on its feet screaming "Kieren! Kieren! Kieren!" even though Grant Hackett was winning.

Kieren describes the trials of being a Superfish in a newspaper article: 'Perkins cannot stand still, even for short periods. If he does, his back begins to hurt, then his arms, until finally he is aching all over. "I am made for the water,'' he says simply. "My body is not really used to fighting gravity.'''

"Words can't describe the feelings. It was difficult winning the gold the first time in 1992, but winning again was a thousand times harder."

-Kieren after his 2nd consecutive 1500m Olympic gold medal in 1996

"You can't really blame Jorg. It's pretty hard to say no when there's someone standing over you saying 'You must take these vitamin pills'."

-Kieren feeling sorry for the drugged Jorg Hoffman who robbed him of a world title and world record.

"I know personally what I want to achieve and they're goals that  nobody else knows. My coach doesn't know. My wife doesn't know. My parents don't know. I have those goals. I have those targets and I'll take them with me until I touch the wall."

-Kieren's intelligent response to Grant Hackett writing his goal on his toilet door.

"Jumping into a swollen river to rescue a drowning child would be heroic. I don't think I'm heroic. What I do I think is inspirational, but I don't think it's heroic."

- Kieren not thinking he's a hero.

"Being your best is not so much about overcoming the barriers other people place in front of you as it is about overcoming the barriers we place in front of ourselves. It has nothing to do with how many times you win or lose. It has no relation to where you finish in a race or whether you break world records. But it does have everything to do with having the vision to dream, the courage to recover from adversity and the determination never to be shifted from your goals."

- Kieren being motivational

Kieren tells how he visualises his Olympic races: "I start months before the event. I just sit there and visualise the race in my mind. I dive into the pool. I'm swimming strongly. I'm out in front. The crowd are roaring, I can hear them. No one can catch me. I even see myself up there on the dais with the gold medal placed around my neck."

"It was an incredible race. I'm proud to have been a part of it."

- Kieren being a good sport after one of his rare losses, where he finished 2nd by a few hundredths of a second in the 400m freestyle at the 1992 Olympics.

"With the crowd support that I’ve had in general and not only just at this meeting, for the last four years has been mind blowing. I guess as an athlete, what I do is swim fast. And when that’s all over and you know you’re down at your local shopping centre sorting through a pile of fruit looking for the best one and you’ve got people coming up to you and just giving you a pat on the back and saying ‘Good luck mate. We know you can get in there and you can do it.’ That stuff just blows you away. I mean, who am I to be getting that sort of adulation, you know!"

-Kieren describes in wonder the support he's had for his Sydney 2000 campaign.




Written 13/01/98, last revised 15/12/98