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|September 2, 2000||
US shoots for 90 medalsScott McDonald in Sydney
The United States should win at least 90 medals at the Summer Olympics and expects to be involved in a big battle with hosts Australia in the swimming pool, the head of the U.S. Olympic team said on Saturday.
U.S. Olympic chef de mission Sandy Baldwin said the preparations by her team were the best ever for an Olympics held outside the United States.
She predicted the United States would see a slight drop in the 101 medals won at home in Atlanta four years ago, while the host Australians would see a jump by about the same number.
"That is a very tangible thing, the home town advantage," Baldwin said.
"I think the Australians will win 10 more medals and we will do 10 less," she said.
The United States lead the medal table with 44 gold medals and 101 overall in Atlanta, while Australia finished in seventh place with seven golds and 41 overall.
"I think the swimming, especially between the United States and Australia, that will be one of the highlights of the Games," Baldwin said.
"It is an Olympic sport so it is very important to Americans, and of course the Australians love swimming," she said.
Australian newspapers closely covered the U.S. Olympic swimming trials and then ran lists comparing times and making medal predictions.
The competition is expected to be much closer than it was four years ago when the Americans won 13 golds, including all of the relays, while won Australia just two golds.
Australians now have the top times in six of the 26 individual events to be contested, with high hopes placed on 17-year-old Ian Thorpe and his team mates Susan O'Neill, Grant Hackett and Michael Klim, all world champions.
Thorpe is expected to win easily the men's 400 metre freestyle, the 200 men's freestyle, plus take a gold as part of the men's 4x200 freestyle relay.
Australian newspapers are also saying the U.S. record of winning all the men's 4x100 freestyle relays since the race became an Olympic event in 1964 was in danger of being broken by Australia.
Baldwin said other swimmers, such as Alexander Popov of Russia, the gold medallist in Atlanta in both the men's 50 and 100 metres freestyle races, and Dutch freestyle and butterfly sprinter Inge de Bruijn, would break up the Australian-American fight.
She said U.S. preparations for the September 15 to October 1 Games had gone very well.
"I think we have had the most organised team situation we have ever had in a foreign country," she said, adding the United States would have about 610 athletes competing.
Tension between the U.S. and Australian Olympic camps increased a little in recent days because of comments by Australian long jumper Jai Taurima that were described as racist by American athletes.
The Australian Olympic Committee said on Friday it would apologise to the U.S. team for the comments in which Taurima dismissed the medal chances of African-American long jumpers Melvin Lister and Savante Stringfellow, saying they would struggle to cope with the mild weather conditions in Sydney.
Taurima, who said the Americans could struggle in the cool conditions in Sydney because of the colour of their skin, has already apologised.
Mail Sports Editor
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