By Ian Hanson
OSAKA, may 20. RISING Australian swimming star Leigh McBean will take another major step towards realising his sporting dreams when he dives into the Osaka Pool tomorrow on day one of the 2001 East Asian Games.
McBean, 19, has been one of Australian Swimming’s quiet achievers in his quest to one day represent his country at the Pan Pacific, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympic Games.
"I guess this is another step up the ladder," said the first year E-commerce and finance student at Bond University.
"Over the past 12 months I have been to Edinburgh for the Commonwealth Youth Games, Sydney for this year’s Youth Olympics and now Osaka for the East Asian Games.
"It has been a steady climb and one which I have enjoyed immensely and I am looking forward to some tough opposition here in Osaka."
McBean, who’s father Steve once competed in the original Coolangatta Gold, will himself take on an iron man task here.
He will start his busy week when he joins Telopea’s Nic Williams in the 200 metres freestyle on day one before lining up in the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay on Day Two.
Day three will see him line up in his specialist 200m backstroke, then the 4x100m freestyle relay on Day four before the men’s 100m backstroke on Day Five.
Depending on the times, it will be either McBean or Beau Mannix who will then line up in the Australian 4x100m medley relay.
Other Day One competitors will be Kate Krywulycz and Melinda Geraghty in the women’s 100m freestyle; Jim Piper and Jarrad Church in the men’s 100m breaststroke; and Melissa Morgan and Yvette Rodier in the women’s 400m individual medley.Australia will send a team of 31 swimmers, including Olympians Trent Steed and Robert Van Der Zant to this year’s 2001 East Asian Games in Osaka, Japan.
Steed, a gold medalist in the 400 metres individual medley at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur, represented Australia at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
2000 Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative Van Der Zant will also join him on the 14 strong men’s team.
Australian Swimming’s youth policy is also starting to prove fruitful with the selection of 10 members of the Dolphins team which dominated the 2000 Sydney Olympic Youth Festival in January.
Freestylers Stephen Penfold (Miami) and Kate Krywulycz (SLC Aquadot) who between them won seven gold medals at the Youth Festival will lead the next generation of Australia’s swimmers.
They will be joined by fellow Festival team-mates Andrew Affleck (Gardens Queensland), Andrew Burns (Toongabbie), Leigh McBean (Miami), Nic Williams (Telepea), Georgina Bartlett (Melbourne Vicentre), Lara Davenport (Galston), Melissa Morgan (Burnside) and Kelli Waite (Yeronga Park).
Jim Piper, who is the current World Cup recorder holder for 200m breaststroke, who finished third in that event, at the Telstra Australia Swimming Championship in a time of 2:13.32, would have won him any previous Australian title.
The East Asian Games, to be conducted between May 21-27, will see Australia field it’s third largest team ever assembled.
Australia is sending a team of 300 athletes to Osaka, which ranks only behind Sydney (632 athletes) and Atlanta (426 athletes). There were 292 athletes in Barcelona in 1992
Besides being a key part of Australia’s development strategy for youth , the East Asian Games is an event the Australian Olympic Committee is convinced will grow in stature in the coming years.
The following swimmers are members of the 2001 East Asian Games team:
Andrew Affleck 18 Gardens QLD
Andrew Burns 18 Toongabbie NSW
Jarrad Church 19 Peel Aquatic WA
Shane Fielding 20 ST Peters Western QLD
Stephen Goudie 21 Nunawading VIC
Beau Mannix 20 Sandy Bay TAS
Leigh McBean 17 Miami QLD
Stephen Penfold 18 Miami QLD
Jim Piper 19 Cambelltown NSW
Burl Reid 22 Commercial QLD
Greg Shaw 24 Chandler QLD
Trent Steed 23 Cambelltown NSW
Robert Van Der Zant 26 Yeronga Park QLD
Nic Williams 18 Telopea NSW
Jessica Abbott 15 Hurstville Aquatic NSW
Francis Adcock 16 Western Sharks SA
Georgina Bartlett 17 Melbourne Vicentre VIC
Chloe Bennett 15 All Saints QLD
Lara Davenport 17 Galston NSW
Sophie Edington 16 Loxton SA
Felicity Galvez 16 Wilkinson NSW
Melinda Geraghty 21 Commercial QLD
Sarah Kasoulis 16 Carey Aquatic VIC
Kate Krywulycz 16 SLC Aquadot NSW
Brooke Martin 16 Forresters Beach Indoor NSW
Melissa Morgan 16 Burnside SA
Yvette Rodier 19 BHP Hunter NSW
Rebekah Rychvalsky 18 Galston NSW
Tammie Smith 17 Newman Churchlands WA
Kelli Waite 16 Yeronga Park QLD
Jordana Webb 18 Carey Aquatic VIC
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