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Coughlin hopes for better luck in Athens
July 29, 2004 12:04 IST
Natalie Coughlin has established herself as the most versatile female swimmer in the world but will be hoping for better luck at the Athens Olympics.
Despite her outstanding performances in the past few years, Coughlin has been plagued by misfortune at major meets. She missed selection for the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after injuring her shoulder, then was so sick at last year's world championships in Spain she could hardly swim at all.
If her luck changes, the 21-year-old Californian university student could come out of Athens with a stack of medals.
Coughlin made her mark in 2001 when she captured the short-course (25-metre pool) world records for 100 metre and 200m backstroke at the World Cup.
She won the 100m backstroke title at the (long-course) world championships in Japan later that year and continued her record breaking spree in 2002.
She set three short-course records in two days during a World Cup meet then became the first and only woman to break a minute for the 100m backstroke (long-course).
Later that year, Coughlin showed her amazing versatility when she became the first person since Tracy Caulkins in 1978 to win five titles at the U.S. national championships, winning the 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m backstroke and 100m butterfly.
Her luck turned at last year's world championships in Barcelona when she was struck down by a virus and had to settle for a single gold in relay.
Determined not to overburden herself, she has opted for five events in Athens - the 100m backstroke and 100m freestyle and the three relays.