Thorpe not wrapped in cotton wool

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Sydney: Put yourself in Ian Thorpe's big shoes. In just 40 days, he will embark on a Games campaign in which he may win more gold medals in one Olympics than any other Australian.

With so much on offer, wouldn't it be tempting to just wrap yourself in cotton wool as insurance against anything thwarting your ambitions? Not for Thorpe. "There are always hiccups, it's just how you deal with them," said Thorpe, 17, after winning the 200m freestyle at the NSW Open Shortcourse Championships over the weekend.

"I don't think you can ever have a perfect run into any competition and the Olympics should be no different. If it was easy, there would be a lot more people doing it." As for wrapping himself in cotton wool, Thorpe was emphatic it wasn't an option. "No, because I wouldn't enjoy it that way," he said.

"I still do the things that I've always done. I tried to look at this preparation as though it was no different to any other. If I did make it a different preparation then I wouldn't be doing the same things and past preparations have worked for me, so I'm not going to change."

"Even outside the pool, it's fine to be happy with your swimming but if you're not happy with your life around then you won't perform well."

Meanwhile, Thorpe would rather national swimming coach Don Talbot had not paid him the ultimate compliment calling him "the swimmer of the century". The 17-year-old unassuming Thorpe, holder of the five fastest 200m freestyle times in history and the three fastest 400m, dislikes the tag.

He believes it is disrespectful to former champions and the current crop headed by Kieren Perkins and Susie O'Neill. "I think it's quite offensive - offensive to all the other swimmers who have come before me and achieved so much," Thorpe said.

"I haven't been to an Olympic Games yet, it was a comment that wasn't necessary and wasn't needed simply because it wasn't just. "Until I perform, and if I perform over a long period of time, and am successful at the Olympic Games, I can be considered amongst the better swimmers in the world. Never before then."

Most of planet will be watching Sydney Games Most of the planet's inhabitants who have access to a television set will be watching the Sydney Olympic Games, according to viewing projections released by the IOC last week.

"Olympic coverage will be broadcast to practically the entire world and is expected to reach 3.7 billion of the 3.9 billion people in the world who have access to television," the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

IOC projections of viewing intentions over the course of the Games ranged from seven hours in developing markets to up to 45 hours in Finland and South Korea.

"Total viewer hours are expected to eclipse 40 billion viewer hours as a result of increased coverage, reach and interest in the Olympic Games," IOC added. The duration of broadcast coverage is expected to break records with nearly half of all broadcasters increasing their coverage above that of Atlanta in 1996.

The sale of broadcasting rights fees for Sydney will provide the Olympic movement with $1.3 billion, a 49 percent increase on Atlanta and 109 percent more than Barcelona in 1992.

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