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Bring on London 2012: Keogh
Two-time Paralympian Prue Watt provided a stunning finale to the 2012 Australian Swimming Championships tonight in Adelaide, by setting a new S13 50 metre freestyle world record at the SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre.
In the closing event for Paralympic hopefuls at the week-long London 2012 selection trial, Watt blitzed what was a hot field to claim yet another national title in a new world mark of 37.89 seconds.
It was a performance that thrilled Australian Paralympic Swim Team Head Coach Brendan Keogh, who has made no secret that his squad is aiming big at the London Paralympic Games beginning August 29.
And with Australian Paralympic swimmers setting a staggering 25 world records at the Championships this week, it is easy to see why Keogh has an air of confidence about him.
The Australian coach admits he now has a real headache when it comes to finalising his final squad to be nominated to the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) for London 2012 selection.
The APC will officially announce the final Australian Paralympic Swim Team in June.
Though the final make-up of the team remains uncertain, what Keogh can confirm is that his squad is better equipped for Paralympic success than it has been for more than a decade.
“It’s really just the beginning of the job for us. We’re fully focussed on London and on converting these great results here at this meet, into greater results at the London Paralympic Games,” Keogh said.
“We’re going into the London Games with strength in the right areas which is a very fortunate position to be in.”
Interestingly, Keogh pointed to the experience and maturity of his squad as potentially their biggest weapon in a sport primarily regarded as a domain for younger athletes.
“ I said in 2004 when I took what was pretty much a school-age team to the Athens Paralympic Games, that I couldn’t wait until 2012 when I get to take an all-age team to a Games,” Keogh said.
“Beijing 2008 was a youth team, and this time around we have an experienced team ready to go.
“Maturity is a real asset for us. We now have the physical, mental and emotional maturity to succeed. That’s what I like about this team.”
On the verge of her third Games, Watt (S13 – 36.27 WR) showed she is one of the squad’s veterans who still has plenty left to prove by defeating rising stars Madeleine Scott (2nd – S9 – 39.96) and Tanya Huebner (3rd – S6 – 47.62) in the 50m shootout tonight to bring the event to a close.
In the earlier multi-class final this evening, Blake Cochrane took victory in the men’s 50m freestyle to put his name forward for London 2012 selection.
The big Queenslander (S8) touched the wall in a time of 37.39 to claim gold from Matt Levy (2nd – S7 – 37.63) and Richard Eliason (3rd – S14 – 32.03).
“It’s been a great week. The swimmers have done the job in the pool under pressure which is what I expect,” Keogh said.
By Tim Mannion