By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, February 21. THE news was not good for the Aussie camp with the Commonwealth Games just over three weeks away with the news that champion swimmer Ian Thorpe has been suffering from bronchitis this past week and has spent little time in the pool. His coach Tracey Menzies conceded that the loss of preparation so close to the major meet would make it difficult for him to produce his best in Melbourne. Thorpe won six gold medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.
The 23-year-old Thorpe is slated to swim the 100-200 freestyle double as well as anchor the three relay teams. In particular, there has been considerable anticipation as to how the Aussie men led by Thorpe with two of his revitalised Sydney Olympic gold medal relay partners Michael Klim and Ashley Callus with rising star Eamon Sullivan will handle the mighty Athens Olympic champs South Africa.
It's not the first time Thorpe has been hit by a bout of bronchitis having pulled out of the FINA World Cup meet in Sydney last November after just one swim in the 200 freestyle. In 2003 Thorpe contracted viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus, prior to the World Championship selection trials and was advised to pull out of the meet. However, Thorpedo was not deterred and went on to take the 100-200-400 freestyle treble and set a new Aussie record in winning the 200 IM.