Gareth Kean admits slips in Olympics buildup

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 05:00 29/08/2012
A disappointed Kiwi Gareth Kean after swimming the 100m backstroke semifinal at the London Olympics.
LAWRENCE SMITH/Fairfax NZ
ANSWERS: Two weeks' holiday in Europe has given Gareth Kean plenty of time to reflect on his Olympic failure.

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Two weeks' holiday in Europe has given Gareth Kean plenty of time to reflect on his Olympic failure and he reckons he's come up with some answers.

The Wellington backstroker was regarded as one of New Zealand swimming's brightest hopes in London but he was well off his best and failed to qualify for the final of either the 100m or 200m.

Kean returned to Wellington on Monday after touring Europe with his brother, and admitted he had made some mistakes in his Games buildup.

In conjunction with coach Gary Hurring, Kean made the "risky" decision to forgo competitive racing in the buildup to London and instead attended a training camp in South Africa.

That decision was then compounded when a pre-Olympic meet in Canberra was cancelled because of an outbreak of whooping cough.

Kean also said piling on 15kg in two years may have backfired.

"Amongst the disappointment there's a lot of lessons as well," Kean said.

"My performances reflected my risky decision on how I wanted to train. I went out a lot faster, using the speed that I'd gained, but couldn't hold it, especially in that 100.

"There's some pros and cons with that weight that I put on. It was all muscle, but the problem was I'm in an endurance sport, and I needed to get the muscle memory in, and it takes a lot longer to get it ticking over."

Kean said he would sit down with Hurring this week and start to map out plans for the next four years building towards the next Olympics in Rio.

Former Olympic backstroker Hurring remained confident that the disappointment of London would prove to be a mere blip in Kean's career.

"Gareth's had one hiccup in three or four years," Hurring said.

"He's got so much talent and potential for the future so we've got to look after him and get him back on track again.

"Everyone needs losses every now and again, they're character building and can really lift you. There are numerous examples of Olympic medallists and champions that had a poor first Olympics, and that's what I hope will happen with Gareth."

Kean and Hurring face a nervous wait, with Swimming New Zealand likely to face a funding cut from Sport New Zealand.

In May, Chris Moller presented a damning review of Swimming NZ, which received $7,475,796 in the four-year cycle before London.

"We didn't live up to expectations so it's going to be interesting," Kean said.

"There's been a lot of negative publicity around swimming but you have to remember it's still one of the blue riband sports in the world."

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- The Dominion Post

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