MELBOURNE, July 4. AUSTRALIAN Olympic gold medalist Michael Klim has suffered an ankle injury and must prove his fitness to make the trip to this month's FINA World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Ian Hanson, Australian Swimming's media director said today.
The injury could be a crushing blow to Australia's chances at the World Championships.
Klim, who was the outstanding swimmer at the 1998 World Championships and who won two gold and two silver medals at last year's Olympic Games, reportedly injured his ankle playing basketball last Thursday.
Hanson said head coach Don Talbot would discuss Klim's schedule with the swimmer over the weekend.
"Don is giving Michael until two days before the World Championships," Hanson said. "If worst comes to worst, we would have the option of replacing Michael with Adam Pine, our third-ranked butterfly swimmer behind Michael and Geoff Huegill." Huegill holds the world record in the 50 meter fly. At the 2000 Olympic Games, Klim and Huegill finished second and third behind Sweden's Lars Frolander.
Klim, who holds the world record in the 100 meter butterfly and is the defending world champion, is scheduled to swim both the 50 and 100 meter fly in Japan. He is also a key member of all three Aussie relays.
Hanson said that Klim may remain in Canberra, missing the team's training camp in Singapore, and fly straight to Japan for the championships, which will be held from July 16 to 22.
The Australian team will assemble in Brisbane on July 6 and compete in a Grand Prix meet there over the weekend before flying to Singapore on Monday for a seven-day camp on their way to Japan.
"Don is giving Michael until two days before the world championships (to prove his fitness)," Hanson said.
"If worst comes to worst we would have the option of replacing Michael with Adam Pine, our third-ranked butterfly swimmer behind Michael and Geoff Huegill, who is also a (50 metres) world record-holder.
"Don said Michael was keeping his chin up. I think he (Klim) was a little bit concerned when it first happened."
A spokeswoman for Klim's agent put the best face on the injury: "It's not too serious and he will be ready for the World Championships. "There's no ligament damage. It's not broken. He rolled over on it and he's healing well."