Aussie Expectations Are High for Commonwealth Games

MELBOURNE, Australia, January 2. LESS than a month remains before the Australian Commonwealth Games Trials kick off in Melbourne, and National Team coach Alan Thompson has been pleased with several performances from his top guns. Leading the way, of course, has been Ian Thorpe. After a year-long sabbatical following the Athens Olympics, Thorpe popped a 1:46.20 mark in the 200 freestyle at the New South Wales Championships.

The Commonwealth Games Trials are scheduled for Melbourne from January 30-February 4, and Thorpe is expected to race the 100 and 200 free events. Thorpe has decided to bypass the 400 free, in which he is the world-record holder, despite the urging of Thompson. Still in the early stages of his return to the competitive ranks, Thorpe felt more comfortable with a double in the 100 and 200 freestyles.

Aside from Thorpe, Leisel Jones and Libby Lenton recently uncorked dynamite times, with Jones accomplishing the feat in the 100 breaststroke. The reigning world champion, Jones registered a time of 1:06.90 at the Queensland Championships. Meanwhile, Lenton delivered a clocking of 54.19 in the 100 freestyle. Adding to the lofty prospects were Jade Edmistone’s times of 30.66 and 1:07.62 in the 50 and 100 breaststrokes.

“There have been some exceptional swims and some solid swims in Brisbane and Sydney,” Thompson said. “It has been a mixed bag depending on where everyone is, in the different stages of their preparation. Some of the guys have pulled out some great times considering they’re in full training and most of them are.”

Other promising swims were recently posted by Linda MacKenzie in the 400 free (4:09.89) and Eamon Sullivan in the 100 free (49.74). Prior to the Commonwealth Trials, the Western Australian Championships will be held January 2-5 in Perth and the Victorian Championships will be held January 3-7 in Melbourne.