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Australia's men get that sinking feeling

Written by: Staff
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MELBOURNE, Mar 22 (Reuters) Australian swimming officials are planning an inquiry into the unexpected flop of the men's team at the Commonwealth Games.

While Australia's women dominated their events, winning 16 of the 19 able-bodied finals and setting two world records, the men's team failed to win a single individual title.

They only escaped the embarrassment of a total whitewash by winning the concluding medley relay. but that provided little relief against a tide of criticism.

The Australians were severely weakened by the absence of their world record holders Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett but former head coach Don Talbot said that was no excuse for the apparent lack of depth.

''I feel the senior members of the Australian men's swim team, they didn't do their job,'' Talbot told an Australian radio station today.

''When you set the goals high and you're winning and then the bottom drops out, then you've got to expect an outcry.'' Swimming Australia chief Glenn Tasker said the team had been upset by the swell of criticism and an inquiry would begin once they returned from next month's short-course world championships in Shanghai.

''The men are copping a bit of hiding. The press has been pretty tough on them and it's obvious they are in a bit of the doldrums right now,'' Tasker said.

''It is disappointing...but I don't think we should be slashing wrists over this.

''We will sit down in the cool light of day and analyse the results and see what the head coaches need to help the men's program.'' MEDIA CRITICISM Australia's head coach Alan Thompson took his frustrations out on the media, saying the criticism was unfair. Thompson said the host-nation had won more overall medals than any other nation but the media's obsession with gold had blurred the performance.

''I don't think you (media) have given the positives as much as perhaps some of the negatives,'' Thompson growled.

''I can't find an individual male in our team who I can criticise their performance at this meet.

''I'm very happy with the performances of the team though you'd be silly to say that we are not disappointed that there were not more golds,'' he said.

Australian backstroker Matt Welsh also said the team had been unfairly uncriticised because of comparisons with the host-nation's women team, which won every final except the 200, 400 and 800 metres freestyle.

''The guys still put in their share and I think we have done more than enough, we have done exceptionally well,'' Welsh said.

''It makes it look worse because the strength of our women and we are still performing just as well if not better than we have in the past.

''A lot of attention is being put on medals and part of the responsibility has to be taken by the girls because they are just winning so many that is what people focus on.'' REUTERS PM RN1243

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