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Pierse Peers Out On A Brighter Day

Mar 30, 2011  - Craig Lord

News Round-Up

Canada: World record holder over 200m breaststroke Annamay Pierse (CAN) had an awful 2010 - but on the eve of Canadian world-title trials in Victoria, she believes she is not only over the worst of her annus horribilis but that her best is yet to come. A broken finger, a magnesium deficiency, an abscessed tooth and finally a bout of dengue fever courtesy of the trip to Delhi for the Commonwealth Games make up the list of woes that the 27-year-old from Edmonton has now put behind her. "That's why I'm still training, still going," psychology graduate Pierse told the Vancouver Sun.

"I haven't had the perfect race yet. As you get older, your body changes and I'm learning how to do things differently. I didn't get fast until I was 24, 25 and I've kept going up since then. The big thing is my strength. As I get stronger, I get faster." She and Hungarian coach Jozsef Nagy opted to enter the fray at world short-course championships "to stay in the game and gauge where I was at. It was the hardest racing I'd ever done." 

She finished 17th in the 100m in 1:07.45 and 16th in the 200m on 2:25.34, much slower than her world long-course mark and sec adrift the champion and the favourite for the world l/c crown this summer, Olympic champion Rebecca Soni, on 2:16.39, a championship record. Nonetheless, Pierse believes that the decision to race in Dubai was a smart one. "Sometimes when athletes get injured or sick, they skip out of something and then it's harder to get back into it," she tells the paper. "After going what I went through, it was more of a mental battle in not giving up. It lights the fire in you again. You know what you want and it puts into perspective how much work you have to do." 

Pierse took a long Christmas break and came back invigorated. This week she will race the 50 and 100m breaststroke (1:09.1 the cut for Shanghai) and the 200m medley "for fun". World titles are a stepping stone to her big goal: London 2012, said Pierse, who moves into a new flat in Vancouver to live alone for the first time in her life after trials. Having recently spent a month training in Hawaii, Pierse is looking out at a brighter horizon, telling the Vancouver Sun: "Last year was pretty much a disaster. But things must happen for a reason. I've got all that bad stuff out. The next 18 months, I'll be concentrating on training as hard as I can ... and staying healthy. I've had enough adversity in my life."

France: Fred Bousquet will race for France at the world titles in Shanghai, after accepting the stance of his federation over a coaching-staff policy for world championships in Shanghai that will exclude the sprinter's coach at Auburn in the US, Brett Hawke. Today, he tells L'Equipe readers: "I am not going to say that I still believe in the Santa, but they (French federation) support the fact that I would like me to have my coach by my side - and that that would not be a bad thing. Now, perhaps it is time to find peace within myself and with the federation too. It is a complicated situation but we should not let it rest there. Thee is always a way through." Bousquet's easing follows word from Hawke in Auburn cited in the French media: "I'm not in agreement with Fred over what he's done." Christian Donzé, technical director for France, tells the paper: "It is a very good news for the team of France." Team manager Lionel Horter added: "I imagine that he thought long and realised that it was not possible for him to quit the sport". Bousquet had been "clumsy", he added. France operates a scheme under which it would provide Hawke with funding for travel should he gain accreditation to the world titles in Shanghai.

Japan: Kosuke Kitajima, the quadruple Olympic champion, will dedicate his world-title trials efforts next week to those affected by the scale-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 in the hope that it will motivate them. I hope to deliver a positive message to the people in northeastern Japan with the way I swim," Kitajima told Kyodo as he arrived at Narita airport from his California base. '"I hope I can lift their spirits."