Ian Thorpe abandons plans for Spitz record

SYDNEY (AP) – Triple world recordholder Ian Thorpe will concentrate on freestyle events at the Athens Olympics, relinquishing any possibility of duplicating Mark Spitz’s seven swimming golds at a single Olympic Games. Thorpe’s coach Tracey Menzies said yesterday that Thorpe will swim the 100-, 200- and 400-meter freestyle at this month’s Olympic trials in Sydney, leaving the 200 medley out of his program for Athens. The 21-year-old Thorpe won silver behind American Michael Phelps in the medley at last year’s Barcelona world championships. But with just 17 minutes between the 100-meter freestyle final and the 200-meter medley semifinal in the Athens schedule, Menzies said she has opted to take a more cautious approach on Thorpe’s program. «I don’t want to put too much pressure on him,» Menzies said. «It’s going to be a hard enough task to get up and do the events that we’ve picked as well as relays. It’s a big emotional drain.» Thorpe has taken on seven events at major competitions since winning three gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, including the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games and last year in Barcelona. Thorpe holds world records over 200, 400 and 800 meters, all of them set at the 2001 world championships in Fukuoka, Japan, where he won six gold medals, including three relays. He improved on his 400-meter record time at Manchester while winning gold, but the 200 and 800 have not been improved upon. The Australian Olympic swim trials begin March 27 at the Sydney Olympic pool.

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