Aussie Nationals: Thorpe Wins Fourth Gold

By Belinda Dennett

HOBART, Tasmania, Australia. Mrch 29. THE MAN of the moment, Ian Thorpe, became the first person since John Konrads in 1959 to win Australian national titles in the 100m, 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle after blowing away a field which included six Olympic medalists in a dramatic 100 meter freestyle final on night six of the Telstra Australian Championships in Hobart.

Ian Thorpe's personal best time of 49.05 was too quick for Ashley Callus (49.46), the fourth member of Australia's all-conquering 4 x 100m freestyle relay at the Olympics in a thrilling 100m final.

The former world-record holder and defending champion, Michael Klim was relegated to third place in a time of 49.53 and in a major upset will now miss his pet event in the World Championships.

On winning the four national titles, Thorpe admitted it was a "bit of a dream."

It's something I didn't expect to do. To be able to add the 800m to my program and be successful is great. I've been lucky to get back to the form I was in before the Olympics," he said after the race.

"To be mentioned in the same breath as John Konrads is an honor and I'm just pleased to be in the kind of form which allowed me to add the 100 meters time tonight.

"Michael wasn't at his best but Ashley and I were equal to or better to our best."

Callus summed up the thoughts of everyone at the Tattersall's Hobart Aquatic Centre. I knew that Thorpie would be coming home fast, and boy, did he what."

Rounding out the final were: Todd Pearson (49.67), David Jenkins (50.20), Adam Pine (50.27), Bill Kirby (50.71) and Stephen Goudie (50.85).

Matt Welsh, the Olympic bronze medallist in the 200m backstroke, took the final out hard and led all the way to win in 1:59.64. Welsh was on pace for a near best time but tired visibly over the last 50m.

"I didn't think it was going to hurt that much at the end, but it was worth it," he told Duncan Armstrong in his pool side interview.

It takes Welsh's tally at this meet to two gold and a silver. Fellow Victorian, Ray Hass was second in 2:00.60 with 17-year old Miami youngster Leigh McBean taking the bronze medal in 2:01.46.

Completing the top eight were Josh Watson (2:02.70), Andrew Burns (2:03.82), Cameron Delaney (2:04.05), Adam Lucas (2:06.02) and Ethan Rolff (2:06.73).

In the women's 50m breaststroke final it came down to the final touch and it was Olympian Tarnee White who was able to stretch to the wall first in 31.84 with Brooke Hanson, the defending champion, taking the silver in 31.90. Both White and Hanson swam personal best times while Leisel Jones, the Olympic silver medalist in the 100m breaststroke finished third in 32.59.

Completing the final were Sarah Kasoulis (33.38), Rebecca Brown (32.92), Rebekah Rychvalsky (33.43), Angela Kan (33.49), Katie Clewett (33.81).

In the women's 200m freestyle, Manly's Elka Graham took out her first national title swimming under two minutes for the first time to stop the clock at 1:59.77. Graham admitted to phoning the recently retired Susie O'Neill before the race for some words of advice.

"I rang Susie and told her I was nervous and she said don't worry I used to get nervous too," said Graham.
Giaan Rooney, a member of Australia's silver medal winning 4 x 200m freestyle relay, finished second in 1:59.99 and was disappointed with her time. Another member of the Olympic relay team, Petria Thomas, came home third in 2:00.74.

Completing the final were Kasey Giteau (2:01.91), Linda McKenzie (2:02.34), Amanda Pascoe (2:02.45), Kate Krywulycz (2:02.46) and Sarah Ryan (2:04.26).

Lori Munz completed her come-back when she took out the 200m Individual Medley national title and secured her place back on the Australian team. Munz was the hard-luck story of last year when she suffered horrific injuries in a car accident prior to the Olympic selection trials.

She was the sentimental favorite and an appreciative crowd at the Hobart Aquatic Centre cheered loudly when she touched the wall first in 2:16.48.

Jennifer Reilly added the silver medal to the gold she has already won in the 400m IM, finishing in 2:17.12 with breaststroke champion, Leisel Jones taking the bronze in 2:18.08.

Completing the top eight were Megan McMahon (2:19.70), Jessica Abbott (2:20.31), Skye Bloffwitch (2:20.82), Georgie Bartlett (2:21.56) and Sarah Windsor (2:26.99).

Queensland's Miami Club took out the championship in the mens 4 x 200m freestyle after a strong lead leg by Olympic gold medalist Grant Hackett in 1:47.22 – the second fastest 200m swim of the meet behind Ian Thorpe's world record.

Hackett was joined on the dias by Miami team mates Daniel Lysaught, Leigh McBean and Stephen Penfold to give the Denis Cotterell trained Miami team their third successive National 4x200m freestyle relay title.

Their time of 7:25.19 put them ahead of Western Australia's City of Perth (7:34.86) and Victoria's Nunawading (7:38.06), Yeronga Park Queensland (7:39.14), Brothers, Qld (7:47.34) and Redcliffe Leagues Lawnton, Qld (7:51.84).

In the multi-disability events, Denmark's Peter Lund-Anderson took out the 100m freestyle final in 1:09.64 from Wellington, NSW's Ben Austin (1:04.62) and Stewart Pike from the AIS in 1:00.63. Completing the final were Paul Cross (1:01.25), Justin Eveson (59.78), Alex Hadley (1:11.01) and Michael Palfrey (1:03.44).

In the women's 100m freestyle, Siobhan Paton won yet another gold medal in the time of 1:03.38, with the other star performer at this meet, Alicia Aberley, picking up the silver in 1:04.72 and Kate Bailey taking the bronze in 1:10.75. Completing the final were Jessica Smith (1:16.98), Amanda Drennan (1:18.00), Chantel Wolfenden (1:27.12), Simon Greer (1:13.98) and Sarah Bowen (1:44.41).

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