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Perkins: No More Show Ponies Please

Apr 4, 2013  - Craig Lord

Aussie distance free legend Kieren Perkins has challenged Australia's men to step up and become more focussed on their sport instead of being "celebrity show ponies".

In the wake of the damning Bluestone Review into Australia's Olympic swimming team, Perkins, 1992 and 1996 Olympic 1500m free champion, believes swimming has not been  irrecoverably damaged by the Stilnox Saga and revelations about bad team culture in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

However, he told reporters Down Under today: "The guys who are involved in the team now need to take on board the lessons. Grow up a little bit and get on with the job that they're there to do, which is to be the world's best athletes not celebrity show ponies."

Perkins, who assisted in the review along with Petria Thomas and Tim Ford, believes that former head coach Leigh Nugent, who quit the head coach post last month, was let down by flawed structures within the sport.

"It's imperative that the sport makes sure the high performance structure they put in place, and whoever then head coach is has got the right mandate and support to get the job done," Perkins said. "It doesn't matter if it was Leigh or anyone else, without the right structure and system around them and support to allow them to to do the job they're paid to do, it was always going to fail."

Perkins urges the swim community in Australia not to let the past overshadow the upcoming world championship trials in Adelaide. "It's important now that we have to move on," he said. "We've got a great opportunity to get it right and that's where the conversation has to be from now on."