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Virus Ends Goddard's Euro Campaign

Aug 6, 2010  - Craig Lord

Britain's James Goddard, who leads the 2010 European rankings over 200m backstroke and 200m medley, has been felled by a 'flu-like virus that has forced him to withdraw from the European Championships next week in Budapest.

At British trials in March, Goddard,  clocked world-class efforts of 1:57.06 on backstroke and 1:57.76 on medley. Those two swims remain the best by any European so far this year but Budapest will not see the 2002 Commonwealth 200m backstroke champion in action.

A spokesman for British Swimming confirmed: "James has been laid low by a cold/'flu-like virus for the past two weeks and won't be in Budapest. The decision was taken today. he's now on the mend and it was felt that it would be better for him to focus on his recovery and get back in shape in time for the priority event of the year, the Commonwealth Games."

Dennis Pursley, American head coach to Britain, spoke to Stockport coach Sean Kelly yesterday and a decision was taken to keep Goddard at home. There is no suggestion that his ailment might have spread through the Britain camp - because there is no camp.

Pursley explained that his squad would fly in to Hungary at the last hour before racing starts on Monday for seven days, some would come and go just for their specific event, while all would leave for home the moment events finish on Sunday August 15. The core group, including all the main medals hopes, will remain in Hungary for the duration of the championships. 

"We are not doing for Budapest what we would normally do for the Olympics and what we will do for the Commonwealths. We are allowing people to arrive in staggered groups and some will come in, race and fly home. Our core group will be there throughout the week," said Pursley.

Britain had made its 2010 priority the home-nation focus of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October, though Pursley still expects his troops to be "competitive" in Budapest.