By Ian Hanson and Belinda Dennett
MELBOURNE, June 17. DISTANCE kings Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett, and emerging star Craig Stevens, provided the packed Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre with entertainment plus in the 800 meter freestyle on Day Two of the Telstra Swimming Grand Prix.
It was the race the crowd had to come to see and the players, Thorpe, Hackett and the lesser-known Stevens didn't disappoint.
It was a race in three, with the gallant Stevens leading the trio to the 600m mark before Thorpe and Hackett pulled away. It came down to a sprint over the last 50m with Thorpe, too powerful for Hackett, touching in 7:52.94 with Hackett second in 7:54.87 and Stevens third in 8:04.99.
Thorpe and Hackett had slugged it out over 400 meters the night before with Thorpe the victor -continuing his great form from Canet, Rome and Monte Carlo over the last two weeks – where he remained unbeaten over 200 and 400m freestyle.
The 18-year-old from Sydney has now won eight races in two weeks in four countries.
Despite his tiring itinerary, Thorpe and Hackett signed autographs for over an hour on Saturday night, with over 300 fans lining up to catch a glimpse of their stars.
In other events, local heroes Michael Klim and Matt Welsh set the large Melbourne crowd alight with their victories – Klim in the 100m freestyle and Welsh in the 200m backstroke.
Klim won the first event of the evening, taking the 100m freestyle in 49.62, just outside Alexander Popov's Victorian All-Comers record. Ashley Callus, a member of Australia's 4 x 100m gold medal winning team at the Sydney Olympics, was second in 50.19 with Todd Pearson third in 50.50.
Welsh continued to impress his home crowd adding the 200m backstroke title to the 50m backstroke he won yesterday. His time of 2:01.64 beat home Ray Hass (2:01.97) and Josh Watson (2:02.99).
Petria Thomas continued her impressive lead up to next month's Ninth FINA World Championships, winning the 200m butterfly by over three body lengths in 2:09.44. Her fellow teammate, Nicole Hunter was second in 2:15.06 with Heidi Crawford third in 2:15.51.
Justin Norris took his third win at this meet, adding the 200m individual medley to the 400m IM and the 200m butterfly. His time of 2:03.28 was too good for Robert Van der Zant's 2:06.26 and Grant McGregor's 2:07.54.
Australia's three top female breaststrokers Leisel Jones, Brooke Hanson and Tarnee White have dominated the breaststroke events during the Telstra Grand Prix meets with only the order to be determined each race. In the 200m final it was Jones, the Olympic silver medalist in the 100m breaststroke, claiming first position in 2:27.74 from Victorian, Hanson (2:31.07) and White (2:33.89)
Simon Cowley, swimming from lane two, took the 50m breaststroke in 28.93. Jim Piper who has performed so brilliantly overseas recently, twice breaking the Australian record for the 200m breaststroke, was second in 29.34 with Phil Rogers third in 29.42.
Jennifer Reilly took the 400m individual medley, breaking her own Victorian All-Comers record with her time of 4:46.33 from Hayley Lewis (4:53.14) and Megan McMahon (4:54.17).
In the 50m butterfly final Geoff Huegill, the current world record holder, hit the wall first, breaking his own Victorian All-Comers record in 24.06 from rival Michael Klim (24.38) and Burl Reid (24.43).
Dyana Calub showed her experience in nailing the finish of the 50m backstroke in 29.51 to out-touch 16 year old Sophie Edington (29.71) and Giaan Rooney (29.90). Calub continued the trend of the evening breaking her own Victorian All-Comers record by 0.04 second.
Elka Graham swam a personal best time to win the 400m freestyle in 4:11.94. Victoria's Sarah-Jane D'Arcy was second in 4:13.44 with Linda McKenzie third in 4:14.47.
Stephen Goudie won the 50m freestyle in 23.01 to defeat Australia's two world championship representatives in this event, Ashley Callus (23.07) and Brett Hawke (23.15).
The Telstra Swimming Grand Prix now moves back to Brisbane for the third and final meet at the Sleeman Sports Complex on July 7 and 8, before the Telstra Dolphins leave for the World Championships in Japan.
In Australia, the Nine Network will provide coverage of the World Championships between July 22 and 29, LIVE from Fukuoka.
Telstra Swimming Grand Prix 2
Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre
Day Two: June 17, 2001
50 meter pool
1. M Klim (Southern Bay, VIC) 49.62
2. A Callus (Redlands QLD) 50.19
3. T Pearson (Carine, WA) 50.50
1. S Cowley (SLC Aquadot, NSW) 28.93
2. P Rogers (Sydney Uni, NSW) 29.34
3. J Piper (Campbelltown, NSW) 29.42
1. G Huegill (Redcliffe Leagues/Lawnton) 24.06
2. M Klim (Southern Bay, Vic) 24.38 2
3. B Reid (Commercial, QLD) 24.43
200m individual medley
1. J Norris (BHP Hunter, NSW) 2:03.28
2. R Van der Zant (Yeronga Park, QLD) 2:06.26
3. G McGregor (Brothers, QLD) 2:07.54
1. S Goudie (Nunawading, VIC) 23.01
2. A Callus (Redlands, QLD) 23.07
3. B Hawke (Sydney Uni, NSW) 23.15
1. I Thorpe (SLC Aquadot, NSW) 7:52.94
2. G Hackett (Miami, QLD) 7:54.87
3. C Stevens (SLC Aquadot, NSW) 8:04.99
1. M Welsh (Melbourne Vicentre, VIC) 2:01.64
2. R Hass (Firbank Aquastars, VIC) 2:01.97
3. J Watson (Kingscliff, NSW) 2:02.99
400m individual medley
1. J Reilly (Victoria Park, WA) 4:46.33
2. H Lewis (Commercial QLD) 4:45.13
3. M McMahon (Toongabbie, NSW) 4:54.17
1. D Calub (Kingscliff, NSW) 29.51
2. Sophie Eddington (Loxton, SA) 29.71
3. G Rooney (Miami, QLD) 29.90
1. P Thomas (Ginninderra, NSW) 2:09.94
2. N Hunter (Tattersall’s Hobart Aqu., Tas) 2:15.06
3. H Crawford (BHP Hunter, NSW) 2:15.51
1. E Graham (Manly, NSW) 4:11.94
2. S D’Arcy (Melbourne Vicentre, VIC) 4:13.44
3. L Mackenzie (Mackay Swimming Academy) 4:14.47
1. L Jones (Redcliffe Leagues/Lawnton, QLD) 2:27.74
2. B Hanson (Nunawading, VIC) 2:31.07
3. T White (Redcliffe Leagues/Lawnton) 2:33.89