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Aussie Trickett set to star in Beijing pool


Agence France-Presse



SYDNEY -- Australia's Libby Trickett is poised to become one of the multi-medal winners in the pool at this year's Beijing Olympics.

Trickett, 23, is targeting the 50-meter, 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and the two 100m relays for a potential five medal haul.

Initially, she had her sights on a 20-year Olympic record with a crack at six golds, but she dropped the 4x200m freestyle relay from her Beijing workload.

Kristin Otto was tagged the female equivalent of the great Mark Spitz when the East German captured six gold medals in six swims at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, a record that has not been equaled or bettered in women's swimming.

"It?s a matter of the timing of everything and obviously I would have had to post a time to be considered to swim in the relay and it would have been difficult for me to post a time good enough to be on that relay in mid-season training," Trickett said.

Trickett has yet to land an individual Olympic gold having shared in a 100-metres freestyle relay victory in 2004, but in the four years since Athens history beckons for her at the 'Water Cube.'

Trickett, formerly Lenton, has prepared her Olympic campaign on the back of five gold -- in the 50m and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly and two relays -- at last year's world championships.

She had a shot at a grueling seven-race program at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and she collected five gold and two silver medals.

Trickett, crowned Australia's 2007 Swimmer of the Year, subsequently dropped the 200m freestyle event from her Olympic workload, saying it was beyond her capabilities.

The Aussie, with the neon smile, goes into Beijing with world record swims in the 50m (23.97) and 100m freestyle (52.88) at the national trials last March.

Trickett is the first woman to go under 24 seconds for the 50m and 53 seconds in the 100m. She also holds the world short course records in the 100m and 200m freestyle and 100m butterfly.

"These swims have certainly given me a huge amount of confidence for Beijing," Trickett said.

?I hope that it is a little bit intimidating for my rivals, but I am confident I can go faster,? said Trickett.

"The 100m freestyle holds a special place in my heart and to know that four years ago I was going 0.8 seconds off that, it's just awesome," she said.

Trickett had previously gone under 53 seconds only for the world governing body FINA not to ratify her 52.99 because she was racing alongside American superstar Michael Phelps in last year's 'Duel in the Pool' meet in Sydney.

"One thing is certain, I know I'm definitely going to handle the pressure of being the world record-holder a lot better than I did in Athens in 2004," she said.

?I've gone into Olympic Games as the favorite before and didn't handle it so well then,? she said.

"I'm in a different place in my swimming now, I don't really tend to feel much pressure in terms of being the favorite," she said.

Trickett, wracked by nerves, missed out on swimming in the 100m final in Athens by nine-hundredths of a second as the ninth fastest qualifier after going into the last Games as the world record-holder.

She married fellow swimmer Luke Trickett in extraordinary scenes in April last year. They honored a lucrative magazine deal by shuffling inside a white "walking tent" carried by security guards to waiting limousines to prevent them being photographed.

Amid critical publicity, Trickett later revealed that their reported large fee was divided between three charities.

"I?m at a pretty good place right now and I?m just as strong, or stronger and probably fitter than I was before national trials. I?m just looking forward to getting into taper now," Trickett said at a recent training camp.

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