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Mellouli back in pool, eyes worlds

March 27, 2013
Oussama Mellouli (Photo tixup.com)

Oussama Mellouli (Photo tixup.com)

Double Olympic champion Oussama Mellouli has taken to the water again after a long break following the London Games with his eye on competing in the 1500m and 10km at this summer’s World Championships in Barcelona.

The Tunisian became the first man in Olympic history to win gold medals in both pool and open-water races when he won the 10km swimming marathon in London after having topped the 1500m freestyle podium in Beijing four years previously.
The first African man to win a gold medal in an Olympic swimming event, Mellouli told AFP he was now raring to go after having a time-out following his success in London.
“I want to compete at the World Championships,” the 29-year-old said of the July 19-August 4 event. “It will be 10 years since my first medal, in the world champs (also) in Barcelona in 2003.
“I want to compete in both the open-water event and the 1500m.”
Mellouli admitted he had backtracked on post-Olympic thoughts of calling it a day.
“After London, I said I was ready to take my leave,” he said. “But I re-evaluated my situation and I fixed for myself new goals with this new passion that is open-water swimming.
“At my age and after the career I’ve had, it’s cool to have that sort of stimulus.”
Mellouli, who has trained since 2002 in Los Angeles where he is studying for a Masters in sports management, spent two months in his homeland after London but insisted he was not completely out of shape.
“I’ve kept fit but I’ve not been training intensively,” he said. “Four months out from the worlds, I’ll see how it pans out and afterwards will seriously start on the Olympic cycle.”
Mellouli’s participation in the Barcelona worlds will also offer the Tunisian a chance to further banish the memory of the 18-month ban he received in 2007 for a doping offence.
It cost him the gold and silver medals he had won at the 2007 World Championships, but he rebounded in style at the Beijing Olympics and continued that form through for another four years.
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