Quiet Hoogie Content to Let Phelps, Thorpe Take Center Stage

ATHENS, August 11. THE Flying Dutchman, Pieter van den Hoogenband is quite content to have the world media focus on American Michael Phelps and Aussie Ian Thorpe. Meanwhile, Hoogie is preparing to defend his Olympic title in the 200 meter freestyle.

Hoogie won the title four years ago in 1:45.35, upsetting Thorpe before the Aussie's home crowd in Sydney. Thorpe, who hasn't lost a major 200 free race since, is intent on winning what he and his millions of fans believe is rightfully his.

Phelps, who is planning an assault on Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals at a single Olympics and has entered eight events at Athens, including the 200 free, is looking to upset both of his elders.

For his part, van den Hoogenband, is unruffled. "I don't like the attention," he told Reuters reporter Ian Simpson. "[They] can have all the attention.".

The 200m freestyle will be among the highlights in Athens as it will include the four fastest men in history: Thorpe, Hoogie, Phelps and Aussie Grant Hackett, the world record-holder in the 1500 meters and a former world record-holder in the 200 meters. Not to be overlooked is the second American, Klete Keller, who gave Phelps all he could handle at the US Trials, while Canada's Rick Say will also be in the fray.

"It's always nice to have a good strong field and they do well," said
van den Hoogenband. "It gives you something extra." Asked if he was being underestimated, the 26-year-old said: "I hope

The heats and semifinals of the 200 free take place on Sunday, with the finals the next day.

Hoogie, is also the defending champion and world record-holder in the 100 meters.

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