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Injury, illness force Schlanger to withdraw from Worlds

July 6, 2013
Melanie Schlanger

Melanie Schlanger

Australia’s women freestyle relay hopes at this month’s world championships have suffered a blow with Olympic finalist Mel Schlanger forced to withdraw because of injury and illness.

Schlanger this week informed national high performance director Michael Scott that a rib injury, shoulder soreness and a viral infection during the past six months had robbed her of too much preparation to be able to perform at the required standard in Barcelona.

“Unfortunately that’s pretty much given me a total of about a week of race-specific training which for me is not enough in my mind to be competitive at the world championships and be at the standard that I expect of myself and what I believe should be expected of a swimmer on the national team,” Schlanger said.

“So the best decision for me was just to step off the team and allow a swimmer who is in good shape and been training well to fill that place and have a go.”

Schlanger was left in the backwash of a rejuvenated Cate Campbell at this year’s national titles as she battled a rib injury, which she suffered flipping truck tyres as part of her cross-training. She only qualified as a relay swimmer in the 100 and 200 freestyle.

However, the 26 year old, who returned from an illness-enforced layoff for remarkable success at last year’s Olympic Games where she finished fourth in the 100 freestyle at the London Olympics and won a gold and two silvers with the relays, said she was positive about her future.

“Just post the Olympics I was really fired up and motivated to have a good one this year and it just wasn’t to be. That’s pretty much the way it goes,” she said.

“That’s elite sports. It happens in all sports, when injury and illness steps in you’ve really got to listen to your body and work with the situation you’ve got, so it’s definitely disappointing but I came back to this sport with nothing to lose and last year was just so incredible for me that this is just all a bonus.

“I’m just going to focus on the next thing I can control and that’s to get fit and healthy and back into a shape that I can swim fast again.”

Scott said Schlanger’s place in the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays would be covered by the swimmers within the team.

“We won’t be adding any additional swimmers to the team. It’s very late in the piece at this point in time to be doing that but also we believe we’re in a fortunate position that we’ve got good depth in both those relays to be able to cover Mel’s withdrawal from the team.”

Schlanger, who when in form would be in the strongest relay teams, said she was confident that the relay teams would still be among the favourites in Barcelona.

“I’d like to think that I’m a valuable contributor to the team and without me they’d be lacking a little bit, but I don’t think that’s the case,” Schlanger said.

“Our depth in both of the events are quite tremendous actually and the result from the trials this year, we’ve got a lot of young kids swimming really fast and it’s only going to get better so I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”

Meanwhile, former Paralympic champion Kingsley Bugarin will on Sunday swim in the Bali 10-kilometre open water race to raise money for children with disabilities in Indonesia. Bugarin, who is vision impaired with about four per cent eyesight, said he wanted to raise at least $2000 to help cover the costs of wheelchairs that have been imported into Bali for children to learn wheelchair basketball.

He said it was a cause close to his heart.

“Basically (a disability) is seen as being a punishment for transgressions that have been committed by the family so kids are hidden away … the Bali Sports Foundation are trying to lift not only the self esteem of the people with disability but also their social value through sport,” said Bugarin, whose Australian record of 19 Paralympic medals was surpassed by Matt Cowdrey last year.

“I just basically want to try and help these guys out because they’re doing something that I consider pretty worthy.”

“I know what discrimination is like. Australia in the ’70s wasn’t exactly a shining example of tolerance and enlightenment so I know exactly what bigotry and discrimination against anybody that is a different is like and all I had was a visual impairment.”



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