Germany's Paul Biedermann today predicts that the 200m freestyle final at London 2012 will be one of the best and fastest four-lap freestyle battles ever seen - and the world record holder from 2009 intends to be in the mix.
Winner of the Roma 2009 world title in a world record at a time of booster bodysuits, Biedermann emerged with bronze medals from the Shanghai 2011 world titles, his third place in the 200m secured behind American duo Ryan Lochte and Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
Biedermann, 25 and based in Halle with coach Frank Embacher, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine: "The race of my life, I hope, is yet to come. I believe the 200m freestyle final will be one of the best there has been. There won't be one faster any time soon. All eight who qualify for the final in London will have a real chance to become Olympic champion."
German Olympic trials get underway in Berlin this week, while the US will top last at the end of June. Comparisons to Phelps, 26, are inappropriate, Biedermann points out, telling the paper: "How many Olympic medals has he got? 16? I have zero. We are worlds apart. I don't think you can compare me to him."
Biedermann believes that Phelps's perception of him has changed since the German improved 4sec on a 200m and 6sec on a 400m to claim the world record in both races in the Rome suits circus of 2009 before the ban on apparel that skewed results and shot the clock forward to a pace that swimmers would not have achieved off their own steam. Lochte, over 200m medley, remains the only swimmer to race faster in textile than any of the world records set in booster suits banned on January 1, 2010.
The picture of those who stacked up post-suits and those who have faded from their status as world leaders is mixed. Biedermann has since proved himself a world-class act capable of muscling in on the medals on the biggest of occasions. He says: "In 2009, I was just a bloke who took his world record away wearing the suit, now I have shown that I am at the top of the world level without it."