Home / Sports / Opinion Review Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read | Comment
Coventry, Rice duel resumes at Rome Worlds
Adjust font size:

The swimming portion of the 13th FINA world championships is just a few days away and a "Battle Royale" is looming between Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry and Stephanie Rice of Australia in the women's 200m and 400m individual medley events, The Herald said on Wednesday.

The swimming events at the world championships are set to run from Sunday to August 2 in Rome, where Zimbabwean star Coventry is set to take part in four events in the women's 100m and 200m backstroke and the 200m and 400m individual medley events.

While Coventry is heavily tipped to "walk it" in the 100m and 200m backstroke races, it is her impending duel with Australia's Rice that is likely to set the stage alight at the Rome Championships.

Rice has already beaten Coventry twice in both the 200m and 400m medley events at the last Olympic Games in Beijing, China, last year. And it's no secret that Coventry is itching to gain some measure of revenge over Rice, who has emerged as one of her fiercest rivals at the international stage.

Both Coventry and Rice are already in Europe, preparing for this year's major global swimming event. The former is in Sardinia, Italy, with her American coach Kim Brackin, while the latter is camping with the Australian team in Manchester, England.

They will both fly to Rome later this week in time for the start of the swimming competition at the World Championships on Sunday. However, some bad news has been filtering from the Australian swimming team's training camp in Manchester this week where there is "a health scare" over Rice.

Rice, the team's gold medal hopeful in both the women's 200m and 400m medley events, is reported to be battling to shake off a persistent respiratory infection and is racing against time to be ready for the world championships.

The triple Olympic gold medalist's coach Michael Bohl revealed on Monday that the Beijing golden girl's illness was "lingering" and he was unsure if she would be back to full health by the weekend.

"She's nowhere near where she should be," Bohl was quoted as saying from the team's training camp in Manchester.

"She was a bit crook before we left Australia and when they travel it tends to accelerate things. She's still stuffy through the sinuses and has a bit of a sore throat, although she's better than she was two or three days ago. We have another five days to go so we hope she will be right."

Rice is due to begin her racing program on the first day of competition on Sunday, in the 200m individual medley, where she will be fighting for the gold medal with Coventry.

Bohl said he expected her to be close to her Olympic form (where she set world records in the 200m and 400m individual medley) if she could overcome her health issues in time. But she is likely to be pushed all the way by Coventry in both events.

At 25, Coventry is still going strong in the pool and she fired the early warning shots when she warmed up for the Rome event by clinching three gold medals at the Santa Clara Invitational meet which was held in California, last month.

At the four-day Santa Clara Invitational, Coventry swept to victory in the women's 400m medley, 100m and 200m backstroke events. She also set a meet record of 4 minutes 32.15 seconds when winning the 400m medley race. In that race, Coventry also relegated Rice to fourth place but the Australian claimed after the event that she was not in peak form and "will be back with a vengeance" at the World Championships in Rome.

And now all eyes will be on Rice as she flies to Rome where she will resume her rivalry with Coventry that is, if the Australian manages to shake off her respiratory problems in time for the event. Rice's three golds in Beijing, all in world-record time, might get her wings clipped by Coventry.

Coventry left Beijing with one gold and three silvers, two of those coming in medley races won by Rice. So the battle for the starring role in Rome will likely be played out head-to-head in the individual medleys.

(Xinhua News Agency July 23, 2009)

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read Bookmark and Share

Pet Name
China Archives
Related >>
- Australian Rice wins women's 400m individual medley
- Romance ends for Aussie swimmers Sullivan and Rice
Special Reports
Guo makes big splash at Worlds

More >>

Upcoming Events

July 2009

- 25th Summer Universiade
- Cycling: Tour de France
- Swimming: FINA World Championships