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nyswim
April 26th, 2004, 08:40 AM
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- Australian swimmer Craig Stevens announced his withdrawal Monday from the 400-meter freestyle at the Athens Olympics, giving defending Olympic champion Ian Thorpe the chance to defend his title.

Thorpe failed to qualify for the 400 at the Australian Olympic trials last month because of faults at the start. The multiple world-record holder qualified for the 100 and 200 freestyle, but his best chance for a gold medal is the 400.

Stevens qualified for the 400, placing second to Grant Hackett at the trials.

``The decision I've made is to stand aside in the 400 in the hope that I'll get to see Ian swim that race in the final on Day 1 at the Olympic Games,'' Stevens said.

Australia Swimming Inc. media spokesman Ian Hanson issued a press release saying no comment would be forthcoming from either the national swimming body or from Thorpe until Tuesday.

According to Australian Swimming criteria, if one of the selected swimmers for the Olympics withdraws from an event, that place goes to the next ranked swimmer, who must be a member of the team.

Josh Krogh placed third in the 400, but didn't make the team because he wasn't first or second in any event.

Stevens said there was no pressure from Thorpe to withdraw.

``No, none whatsoever,'' Stevens said. ``He's not the type of person to put pressure on anyone.''

Stevens, paid about $45,000 to tell his story on the Seven network's ``Today, Tonight,'' show Monday, also qualified for the 1,500-meter race behind Hackett, an event in which he has a medal chance.

Hackett said he looks forward to facing Thorpe in Athens.

``I'd love to race Ian and, of course, I'd like to have the opportunity to race him at the Olympics more than anything,'' Hackett said. ``Ian being the No. 1 man in this event and defending world champion and world record holder, the opportunity to try and beat him at this level, of course you would want to have that.''

Bert Bergen
April 26th, 2004, 09:35 PM
Lousy.

Peter Cruise
April 27th, 2004, 02:06 AM
Bert-Hollywood demands it...Hackett still wins

Tom Ellison
April 27th, 2004, 06:47 AM
My bet is on Thorpe..regardless of how he gets into the 400.....