| THORPE: Full faith in coach
Sydney: Ian Thorpe’s inability to create world records at this week’s Australian swimming championships has put the spotlight on his partnership with new coach Tracey Menzies.
The 20-year-old swimming marvel has expressed disappointment with his times at the world championship trials, while fully supporting the abilities of his coach of six months, Menzies.
Thorpe has won the 200m and 400m freestyle finals, events in which he holds the world record, and dead-heated for first in the 100m final.
However, Thorpe underlined his versatility by winning the 200 metres medley national title on Thursday. Thorpe did not contest the 800 and opted to tackle a new event, the medley. The 20-year-old produced a time of two minutes 00.11 seconds, beating compatriot Matt Dunn's 1998 Commonwealth record of 2:00.26.
But such is the expectation that each time Thorpe dives into the pool he will claim another world record, that it is considered a ‘failure’ if the Australian superstar does not achieve it.
The world’s greatest swimmer admits to being a “little frustrated” by not swimming as fast as he would like, but he has refused to blame 30-year-old Menzies. Thorpe clocked up 17 world records under long-time mentor Doug Frost before he surprised the swimming world late last year by announcing a shift to Menzies.
Thorpe said he expected the significant changes he had made to his training programme with Menzies to take atleast 12 months to reap dividends.
“I’ve allowed a little bit more time. Whatever anyone else wants to do, it doesn’t really concern me so much,” Thorpe said Thursday.
“I’ll have trained with Tracey for almost 12 months when it comes to the (July) world championships in Barcelona. So I think my body will have had a chance to adapt to the programme.”
Thorpe said he had no doubt Menzies, little known on the international stage before Thopre’s much-publicised split from Frost, was doing a good job. “I think she knows she’s doing a good job or at least she’s hoping that she’s doing a good job,” he said. “I can assure you that she is.”
Menzies, who used to work under Frost, believes Thorpe is trying too hard to prove that their working relationship is working and needs to relax.
“I really feel for him at this meet because he’s trying to make it happen for me instead of just for himself ... And he’s not relaxing,” Menzies said.
“Ian’s been very protective of me ... He really wants it to work and it is working. We’ve got a really good partnership. It will come and we’ve just got to be patient.”
Swimming rival and friend Grant Hackett has been talking to Thorpe this week, trying to get him to lower his demanding expectations.
Hackett, who has spent most of the past five years competing in Thorpe’s giant shadow, said: “I had a talk with him. I said to him: ‘Look, you can’t expect to swim well every time’.”
Australian swimming high performance director Greg Hodge described Menzies’ decision to try new things with one of the world’s greatest athletes as a courageous one.