News from Down Under: Thorpe to Move to Monaco?; Swim Coach Jailed

By Phillip Whitten

SYDNEY, August 31. AUSTRALIAN Ian Thorpe, acknowledged as the world's greatest male swimmer, is planning to move to Europe — probably to Monaco — as he trains to become the world's fastest sprinter over 100 meters, SwimInfo has learned.

The nineteen year-old sensation already holds the world record for 200, 400 and 800 meters. He ranks second this year in the 100, though his best time is a full second behind WR-holder Pieter van den Hoogenband of The Netherlands. However, Thorpe anchored the Aussie medley relay at the Pan Pacs in 47.2 — a time almost equal to Hoogie's world record.

Next week, Thorpe will decide exactly where to set up shop, but he reportedly is eager to live in Europe and have the opportunity to race more regularly against the world's best swimmers — read, Hoogie. At present, he plans to spend at least three months in Europe, but he is also considering living in the US, at least part of the year.

Thorpe had considered moving to Japan, but he is too popular in that country. He would never have a moment's privacy. Beside, Japan is not noted for its sprinters.

Aussie swimmin great Dawn Fraser supports Thorpe's desire to train overseas: "He has done more than enough for Australian swimming," she said, "and in this day and age of professional sport I can understand exactly why would make a move. Swimmers have a limited span in the sport and they have to make the most of their careers.

"I reckon if he wants a change and wants to experience life in another country, we shouldn't stand in his way. And if he feels he can get greater competition there, he should go.

"That's not to say that I want him to go. Far from it. Australian swimming would really miss Ian. We would suffer from not having him train with other swimmers.

His talent helps bring the best out in all those swimmers around him."

Last week, SwimInfo broke the news that Thorpe was planning on parting company with Doug Frost, his coach of many years. Frost, however, commented: "It's
all just speculation. I am going on holiday for two weeks and there may be something to say after that."

Aussie Coach Jailed for Sex with Teenager

BIRMINGHAM, England, August 30. A former Australian Olympic swimming coach, more recently coaching in England, was sentenced to 15 months in prison yesterday for having sexual intercourse with one of his 15-year-old swimmers, according to Channel 7 News in Australia and sources in England.

Matthew Pedrazzini, 35, used his position as chief swimming coach for Birmingham City Council to "groom" the teenager for his own "sexual gratification," the television station reported.

Pedrazzini coached Australian Olympic gold medalists as well as the Malaysian National team at the 1989 Asian Games.

Pedrazzini took the girl, described as a talented swimmer, to his apartment on August 19, 2000 and had sex with her. He repeated the act the next three days.

The girl reported the incidents to another coach, but he dismissed her complaint, telling her to "put it behind her."

In his defense, Pedrazzini claimed he had been abused as a young boy by Catholic priests. His lawyer said her client "is deeply ashamed of what has happened and the way he behaved."

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