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Australian Super-Talent Heads To Paris Open

Apr 20, 2009  - Craig Lord

Australia has sprung an aquatic super-talent from the world of gymnastics: Nicole Jeffery at The Australian today considers the prospects of 13-year-old Yolane Kukla, a former gymnast who is already swifter in water  than Libby Trickett, Cate Campbell and Emily Seebohm at the same age. 

The world will get a glimpse of Kukla at the Paris Open in June. The teenager's coach Michael Palfery is pacing her progress, keeping her away from certain meets. However, at national age championships she sent smoke off the water. As in these stunners:

  • 100m butterfly: 59.97sec
  • 100m freestyle: 55.26sec
  • 100m backstroke: 1:03.33
  • 50m freestyle: 25.35sec

Described as "short but strong" with big hands and feet, Kukla is said to enjoy exceptional athleticism and power-to-weight ratio.

Palfery told Jeffery: "She's very talented, very dedicated and very consistent in training. In the time I have coached her she's never missed a session.' I sent her to the World Cup in Sydney last November, and she was very nervous but she did a great job - made two finals." As for Paris: "I think she's ready to have a go at this," he said.

Kukla told The Australian: "I am really excited about it. I like racing open, it's good fun. I feel a little bit less nervous and not as much pressure because no one expects me to do anything.''

They will now.

A good moment to remind ourselves of this:  earlier this month, Dara Torres - 41, Olympic silver medallist in Beijing, a woman who has evolved alongside suits down the years and the fastest American woman ever in a bodysuit over 50m freestyle - launched her book, Age is Just a Number, and signed copies at the International Hall of Fame. Torres spoke to a crowd of more than 1,500 parents, coaches and athletes at Fort lauderdale for the YMCA National Championships. A long journey ahead.