Thorpe powers to another victory

Ian Thorpe, who has set or bettered 10 world records in the last two years, cruised to victory in yesterday in his final competitive swim before his Olympic debut next month.

Ian Thorpe, who has set or bettered 10 world records in the last two years, cruised to victory in yesterday in his final competitive swim before his Olympic debut next month.

The 17-year-old "Thorpedo," who holds world records in the 200 metre and 400m freestyle - and is favourite to win both at the Sydney Games - touched in 1min 48.9sec to win the 200m race at the Melbourne Grand Prix. Britain's Paul Palmer placed second in 1:50.46 and Australia's Grant Hackett was third in 1:50.51.

The Russian sprinter, Alex Popov, chasing an unprecedented third successive 50m and 100m freestyle Olympic double, warmed up for his third Games by winning both races in yesterday's competition. He was slow off the blocks but clocked 22.34sec to edge Australian, Brett Hawke, in the 50m.

Popov said he was focusing more on beating the competition in Sydney than making history. "I'm not trying to chase [gold], the thing is that I've done it before and I can't lose anything," he said. "But the others are aiming at it and I just have to stop them."

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