Swimming: Gillingham pulls out of Crystal Palace meet: England selectors stand by the three-times European champion for Commonwealth Games

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The Independent Online
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NICK GILLINGHAM yesterday gave England's swimming selectors a pre-Commonwealth Games problem by withdrawing from the ASA National Championships at Crystal Palace. The three-times European 200 metres breaststroke champion, already pre-selected for Victoria, pulled out of the championships with a back problem.

Gillingham had been picked for Victoria on condition that he proved his fitness at Crystal Palace along with the 17 other swimmers, who are already looking forward to going to Canada. But Ian Gibb, the chairman of the England selectors, said last night that they were prepared to give the Sutton Coldfield 27-year-old 'special dispensation' in view of the circumstances.

Gibb said: 'He has provided us with medical evidence of his condition, and he is a potential medal- winner, so we are prepared to let him decide whether he is fit to go.'

Mark Foster's preparations also suffered a setback when he pulled out of two events. Foster withdrew from yesterday's 50 metres butterfly and today's 50m freestyle, the event in which he is the world short-course champion, because of a burst eardrum. Foster has been selected to swim the 50m freestyle in Victoria but was hoping to claim a 100m place as well.

Tamas Darnyi, the Hungarian world and Olympic champion, announced his retirement yesterday. Darnyi, 27, holds the world record for the 200 and 400 metres individual medley and has been unbeaten for nine years.