By Ian hanson
MELBOURNE, April 22. AUSTRALIAN Swimming’s
"Rockhampton Rocket," Ashley Anderson, is just one win and 24 hours away from his 20th National Age Group title when the Tip Top Australian National Age Group Swimming Championships conclude at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on Monday.
Anderson, an aboriginal who was inspired by Cathy Freeman’s gold medal run at last year’s Olympics, added his fourth gold medal of these championships tonight when he produced an outstanding performance to win the 16 years 100 meter freestyle in a personal best time of 52.41.
It followed his wins in the 100 and 200 meter backstroke and the 200m individual medley and he will now line up as the fastest seed in tomorrow’s 50m freestyle heats – chasing Nathan Rickard’s 1996 Australian 16 years record of 23.39.
The Otto Sonleitner coached teenager, who trains at Rockhampton’s Southside Pool, is Australia’s most celebrated indigenous swimmer and there will be no prouder man in the pool tomorrow night than his larger than life coach, who has guided his young charge for the last five years.
"I actually call him 'Ash the Flash' and he’s a credit to himself and his family for the dedication he has shown over the years and it would be a marvelous achievement if he could add that 20th title tomorrow night," said Sonleitner.
"Ashley has already had a great meet and he will take some beating tomorrow night in the 50 meter freestyle, fingers crossed."
Anderson has represented Australia in World Cup competition in Brazil, the USA and Canada and at last year’s Commonwealth Youth and this year’s Olympic Youth Games in Sydney.
"My goal is to progress through the ranks and make more Youth and Open teams with my ultimate goal to make next year’s Commonwealth Games team and the 2004 Olympics," says Anderson.
"I want to enjoy myself along the way and to be an inspiration to all Australians."
Meanwhile Craig McLennan, the 13-year-old from Blackwater in Central Queensland was just 0.01 outside his newly established National Age Group record (for 13 year-olds) of 24.89 he clocked in the lead off in last night’s 4x50m Inter-State Relay when he clocked 24.90.
In other highlights on Night Four:
CHANDLER’S "Flying fish" Alice Mills won her fourth individual gold medal in the 200m individual medley after chalking up wins in the 50 and 200 meter freestyle and 100m breaststroke earlier in the meet. She later combined with Chandler teammates, Sara Illing, Clair Barrett and Nicky Brooks to break the club’s own National record in the 4x50m freestyle relay with a time of 1:48.18 with Mills clocking a sizzling 25.99 second split. Counting relays Mills has won seven gold medals.
REDCLIFFE LEAGUES LAWNTON’S "Tiny Tot" Jessicah Schipper who added her third gold medal in the 14 years 400m freestyle after earlier winning the 100 200m butterfly. Schipper was among the 2000 National Age Tip Top team which spent a week in camp last year with swimming legend Shane Gould.
WILKINSON NSW’s unstoppable 13 year-old Melissa Mitchell who has swept her age group freestyle titles –adding the 50 meter freestyle to her gold medals in the 100, 200 and 400m freestyles.
OLYMPIAN Jennifer Reilly’s comfortable win in the 17-18 years 400 IM in 4:48.79 – her third gold medal of the championships.
CASUARINA’s Danni Miatke who won the Northern Territory’s first gold medal of the meet in the 13 years and under 100m backstroke in a time of 1:07.26 – in a race with just over half a second separating the first five finishers.
COMMERCIAL Qld’s Nicholas Sprenger who added the 15 years 200m freestyle to his gold in the 100m in a time of 1:54.19 after his first cousin Christian, had won bronze in the 200 meter breaststroke in the same age group.
2001 Tip Top National Age Inter-Club Medal Tally
Coach: Shannon Rollason
REDCLIFFE LEAGUES LAWNTON
Coach: Ken Wood
Coach: Vince Raleigh
Coach: Mark Thompson
State Medal Tally Day Three.
GOLD SILVER BRONZE Total
NSW 31 44 37 112
QLD 47 28 36 111
VIC 12 20 9 41
WA 10 11 8 29
SA 7 8 11 26
TAS 0 2 4 6
NT 1 0 2 3