manchester 2002: ian pope (australia)

openquote.gifThe thing I liked about Manchester was the intimacy with the crowd. They were right there on the deck and the way they got the crowd involved was fantastic. It was certainly a great atmosphere, it was just electric, everyone was all around you it was awesome. That’s the thing I remember about it the most.

From there we had to go straight to Yokohama for the Pan Pacs, but the performances there weren’t great. It’s always hard when they have meet off meet, because their focus has been directed towards Manchester. I would think that to most of the Australian team that the Commonwealths are more important. If some of my swimmers don’t want to do the Pan Pacs, I won’t have a problem with that. I think over a four year period I like to give swimmers a bit it of a break mentally and physically.

In terms of particular swim I supposed the thing that comes to mind first was when my swimmer Matt Welsh got disqualified in the 200m backstroke heats for a slight movement on the start.

Matt was pretty good about it though once the decision had been made – we put in a protest because he actually didn’t move on the start, they got in the take the marks position and made the slightest readjustment in his position and he was disqualified for that. Anyway that was that and he moved on from that which was good. I suppose he had the attitude that “Oh well I’m more rested for the 100 which showed the amount of interest in that race.

There was a lot of hype with Ian Thorpe taking up the 100m backstroke, with that beautiful start of his, and I think Matt felt a little bit of pressure from that and it lifted the profile of backstroke. Normally when you thing about it it’s a but less popular, but there was a lot interest in that race, so I think Matt felt the pressure and was very happy to get it over and done with. That stopped Ian getting 7 gold medals, but he still got 6 which is a pretty good effort for a young fella!closequote.gif