By Stephen Thomas, Jan. 31. MICHAEL Klim, the dual Australian Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder for the 100 butterfly, underwent surgery this week in an attempt to heal a nagging back injury that could potentially end the popular 24-year-old's career.
Klim had a nerve-block operation on Tuesday which involved injecting fluid into an inflamed and protruding disc in his spine in a bid to ease pressure on the nerve that is causing pain in his back and legs. Klim must now be considered in some doubt for the Australian Championships in March, which also serve as selection Trials for the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs.
The popular Aussie, who stormed into world prominence when he won seven medals (including four gold) at the 1998 World Championships in Perth, has been a key player in Australian freestyle and medley relay success since the 1997 World Short Course Championships in Sweden.
Klim is a member of Australian teams that hold the current world records for the 400 freestyle (long course), 800 freestyle (long and short course) and 400 medley (short course). His injury comes as additional bad news for Australian men's swimming in a week where 800 relay teammate, Bill Kirby, announced his retirement.