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Hopes of clash go Down Under

Melbourne: Olympic swimming champion Pieter van den Hoogenband arrived in Australia on Tuesday, saying he was disappointed that he will not be racing against his rival Ian Thorpe in their speciality events.

While Van den Hoogenband has entered five races at the Australian leg of the World Cup, Thorpe, who is still in heavy training, has restricted himself to just one, the 50m freestyle, a distance he rarely competes over. Van den Hoogenband will also contest the 50m freestyle but said he would have preferred to race Thorpe over 100m and 200m too.

In the main events its always nice to race against him for real, said Van den Hoogenband. But the 50m...its a lottery. Its more about fun and I think Thorpey is not taking it so seriously.

The flying Dutchman upset Thorpe in the 200m final at the Sydney Olympics, then won another gold in the 100m, an event Thorpe did not race at the time.

Thorpe won the 400m plus two relay golds then avenged his loss to Van den Hoogenband by winning the 200m at last years world championships in Japan and has since established himself as one of the top 100m sprinters in the world.

Van den Hoogenband has dedicated himself to beating Thorpe at the 2004 Athens Olympics after his comprehensive loss in Fukuoka and says he has begun swimming butterfly in the hope of improving his starts and turns, an area where he loses valuable fractions of seconds to Thorpe.

Im not the best in world for my turns and my starts, so this is a good competition for that, he explained. No one wants to fly all the way from Holland to swim very slow over here, I want to swim fast and hopefully I will.

The three-day World Cup meet starts in Melbourne on Friday.

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