Huegill, Jones to lead Australian swim team in Delhi
Former world champion Geoff Huegill and Olympic champion Leisel Jones will lead Australia’s charge for swimming domination at the Delhi Commonwealth Games after the squad was finalised on Friday.
The 31-year-old Huegill quit swimming after the Athens Olympics and had battles with his weight, which ballooned to a reported 138 kgs, before he made a comeback in late 2008 with an eye on competing in Delhi.
The former 50 metres butterfly world record holder will compete at his third Commonwealth Games after winning two golds in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur and three in Manchester in 2002.
Jones, who won the 100m breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, skipped last year’s world championships in Rome to decide on her future before she committed earlier this year to continue racing until the 2012 London Olympics.
Both Huegill and Jones were named in April as part of the squad’s leadership group by head coach Leigh Nugent.
“Australia has a fantastic tradition at the Commonwealth Games and with the swim team getting the chance to compete at the start of the Games, we know we have a responsibility to start well,” said Nugent. “This is a strong team and a team that is looking forward to competing well in Delhi.”
The squad was principally selected in March after the Australian trials, though Melissa Gorman, Grace Loh, James Magnussen, Kenrick Monk, Mitchell Patterson, Kyle Richardson and Tessa Wallace were all added after impressing at the recently completed Pan Pacific championships in California.
Triple Olympic champion Stephanie Rice withdrew from the squad last week after pain in her shoulder at the Pan Pacs convinced her to have surgery sooner rather than after the Games, as originally intended.
Ryan Napoleon was also withdrawn following his three-month suspension by world governing body FINA after he was given an incorrectly labelled asthma inhaler that contained a banned substance.
“The Pan Pacs ... last week were a great hit-out for the majority of the team, and the athletes and coaches now know exactly what they need to work on and fine-tune, to be at their best come Oct. 4 when we start the meet in Delhi,” Nugent added.
Australia topped the standings with 53 medals, including 19 gold, 18 silver and 16 bronze, at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.
The squad will assemble in Kuala Lumpur for a training camp from Sept. 25-30. The swimming programme at Delhi runs from Oct. 4-9, with the Games closing on Oct. 14.
Men: Daniel Arnamnart, Ben Austin, Leith Brodie, Craig Calder, Ashley Callus, Blake Cochrane, Matthew Cowdrey, Nick D’Arcy, Ashley Delaney, Tommaso D’Orsogna, Nick Ffrost, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, Jayden Hadler, Geoff Huegill, Robert Hurley, Andrew Lauterstein, Peter Leek, James Magnussen, Kenrick Monk, Andrew Pasterfield, Mitchell Patterson, Cameron Prosser, Kyle Richardson, Brenton Rickard, Christian Sprenger, Hayden Stoeckel, Eamon Sullivan, Chris Wright.
Women: Bronte Barratt, Ellie Cole, Alicia Coutts, Sophie Edington, Blair Evans, Felicity Galvez, Katie Goldman, Melissa Gorman, Marieke Guehrer, Samantha Hamill, Belinda Hocking, Leisel Jones, Sarah Katsoulis, Yolane Kukla, Grace Loh, Samantha Marshall, Alice Mills, Meagen Nay, Kylie Palmer, Leiston Pickett, Jessicah Schipper, Emily Seebohm, Tessa Wallace, Annabelle Williams.