SWIMMING: THORPE TO SKIP MUTUAL OF OMAHA DUEL IN THE POOL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2003
THORPE TO SKIP MUTUAL OF OMAHA DUEL IN THE POOL
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Australia's Ian Thorpe announced last night at a press conference in Sydney that he would not be attending the Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool on April 6 in Indianapolis. USA Swimming confirmed the information with Australian Swimming officials late last night.
Thorpe has been struggling with a meningitis-type virus since February, though that information was not released publicly until his press conference last night. He missed one week of training when diagnosed before resuming light training. He competed in Australia's World Championship Trials from March 22-29, winning five gold medals, but not approaching his world record times in his signature events. The illness is reported to affect his recovery between events. The Australian team doctor and Thorpe's personal physician advised him not to attend next week's event in the U.S.
Australian team doctor Jeni Saunders described Thorpe’s condition as “a serious illness” contracted earlier this year on his return from Europe.
“He’s missed a fair bit of training from that and we’ve been monitoring his progress through this meet very closely,” Dr Saunders said.
“Because of those processes we’ve put in place we felt that he wasn’t recovering appropriately and that to travel to compete at this stage would be disadvantageous to his recovery.
“We’ve been looking at a range of things like blood pressure and pulse rates, and morning heart rates, which we do each time Ian races, knowing what he’d normally do because we have the data. We never identified the actual viral element but we did identify the actual illness, though I won’t say what it was to protect Ian’s privacy. He showed the symptoms on his return from Europe."
Some of those symptoms included severe headaches and high blood pressure. Thorpe told reporters he would take two weeks off from training before beginning preparations for this summer's World Championships in Barcelona.
"Obviously we are disappointed that Ian won't be here to compete in the event," said Chuck Wielgus, USA Swimming Executive Director. "However, Australia is still bringing the majority of their World Championship athletes, including world record-holders like Grant Hackett. We fully expect this to be an exciting event, even without the participation of Thorpe."
John Devitt, head of Australian Swimming, concurred. "We are coming to win," he told Wielgus on a call between the two countries' officials last night.
The Mutual of Omaha Duel in the Pool will take place on April 6 at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (Central Daylight Time) in Indianapolis. The event will be broadcast on NBC on April 12 and 13.