Goodwill Games: $50K for a World Record; Davis Praises Thorpe

BRISBANE, April 10. SWIMMERS at the Goodwill Games will get US$50,000 for a world record set during the Brisbane event from August 29 to September 9, officials said on Tuesday.

Australian 50-meter butterfly world-record holder Geoff Hueghill said the package, which includes a total prize purse for swimmers of more than US$500,000, was "a pretty big incentive."

"It's not every day you get offered $US50,000 to break a world record and with the Aussie dollar (US$0.50) as it is, that's quite a good deposit on a house or a unit or something like that," the Olympic 100m butterfly bronze medalist told journalists via a telephone hookup.

"We're…driven by the passion to succeed in the sport and to have such a bonus like that, it's going to build the passion even more and make us swim even harder and train even harder to achieve our goals."

Games chief executive Campbell Rose was quoted as telling local reporters last week to "watch this space" when asked if Dutch Olympic 200-meter freestyle champion, Pieter van den Hoogenband, would return to Australia for a rematch with Australian world record-holder Ian Thorpe.

In another interview via telephone hookup, US team captain, Josh Davis, praised Australian teenager Ian Thorpe, calling him "the best swimmer ever. He is redefining boundaries, just like Tiger Woods in his sport," Davis said today.

Thorpe won the 400 meter freestyle and two relay gold medals as a 17-year-old in the Sydney Olympic pool last September.

Now 18, the 6'5", 220 lb superstar set world records in the 200 meter freestyle and the 800m freestyle and also won the 100m and 400m titles at the Australian championships last month.

Davis believes Thorpe is doing for swimming what Tiger Woods is doing for golf.

"Thorpe's awesome," said Davis, 28, who won two freestyle relay silver medals behind the Australians at last year's Games.

"I think he's the best there's ever been. I really love watching him swim and it's a pleasure racing him. All you can do is keep trying."

Davis said a lot of American swimmers were stunned by Thorpe's two world records at the Australian Championships.

"Everybody within the swimming community was checking swiminfo every day curious about the times that y'all were doing in Australia and of course, we were pretty amazed at Ian's accomplishments," Davis said during an interview to promote the Goodwill Games.

"The last 100 of his 800 (when Thorpe clocked 53.8 to pull away from Australia's Olympic 1,500m champion Grant Hackett), it really didn't seem like he was a human being."

Thorpe has set 13 world records over 200, 400 and 800m freestyle in the past two years.

If he can swim personal bests at the Goodwill Games in September he stands to win hundreds of thousands of dollars in world record bonuses.

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