THE HAGUE, Netherlands, May 11. SURGERY less than three months before the World Championships isn’t exactly the best form of preparation for a major competition. But, it’s what Pieter van den Hoogenband is dealing with.
The freestyle star underwent surgery today to repair a hernia, but expects to be back in training mode by Monday and set to go for Montreal, where he’s a favorite for gold in the 100 and 200 freestyle events. At the World Championships in 2003, The Flying Dutchman won silver medals in the 100 and 200 freestyles and bronze in the 50 free.
van den Hoogenband enters this summer as the reigning Olympic champion in the 100 free and the silver medalist in the 200 free. The 27-year-old is expected to have highlight clashes with Michael Phelps in Montreal, particularly in the 200 distance.