By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, Janauary 15. IAN Thorpe was told by his coach Tracey Menzies to go out and race fast tonight after clocking a relatively slow 1:50.23 in winning the preliminary event yesterday.
Tonight Thorpe was back in his trademark black wrist to ankle bodysuit and was clearly dressed for business. The world record-holder over this distance turned at the 100 in 52.51 (WR split 51.45) and cruised home to record a very fast 1:46.65. By an amazing coincidence his Aussie teammate Grant Hackett clocked the exact same time in Brisbane just over a week ago at the Queensland titles.
We ventured after that swim that it would be interesting to see how the "Thorpedo" would reply. Thorpe had said last night he felt confident in his training and did not feel he needed to race right now and in the end he proved his point. "I was quite surprised by that (his time), it’s the best I have ever done in hard work," he said after his race. In his wake the places were reversed from last night with Victorian Patrick Murphy (1:50.98) beating AIS-based Queenslander Josh Krogh (1:52.41).
Current national title-holder, Elka Graham won the women’s 19 & over 200 freestyle in a very quick 1:58.94, her best ever individual swim (Graham went 1:58.54 leading off the Aussie relay in Fukuoka in 2001 in the team that was DQ’ed in sensational circumstances). Victorian Shane Reese went close to her best to take second in 2:00.68 from local girl Kasey Giteau 2:01.75.
Melissa Mitchell won the girl’s 16-years event clocking 2:00.96 – a PR by almost one second. Stephanie Williams took the girl’s 14-years event in a PR 2:04.05 not long after swimming the open backstroke.
Eri Tabei from Japan won the women’s open 100 backstroke in 1:03.62 from 14-year-old rising star Stephanie Williams (1:04.07) and AIS-based Karina Leane (1:04.23).
In the 100m backstroke, Olympic finalist Josh Watson, 26, led his younger opponents from start to finish to touch in 56.19 and record his second win in consecutive nights over Andrew Burns (56.61) and club mate Ethan Rolff (57.01). Watson went 55.93 in winning last night.
Australian Institute of Sport-based Justin Norris comfortably took the men’s 19 & over 200 fly in 2:00.03. Norris will contest the open event tomorrow night.