Hoogie Honed For Happy Outcome
Aug 8, 2008
Craig Lord

There are only two men left in town who can join Fraser and Egerszegi in the triple crown club and make history among men here at the Watercube in Beijing. First up is Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 100m free, followed by Grant Hackett in the 1,500m free.

Hard to say which one has the edge, for although Hackett is the one who has shown the best form so far this season, it is our duty to report that Hoogie looked more like the menace he was back in 2000 as he cruised through his final workout in the cube on what was the last evening of practice in the pool before the off tomorrow (the cube closes at noon today in readiness for the opening ceremony and anyone left inside will surely still be there until the fireworks fade).

The Flying Dutchman has sat back and watched a generation of bodysuited blasts from around the world, most notably from Eamon Sullivan Down Under and the French sprint musketeers led by world record holder Alain Bernard. This coming week, Hoogie will zip up in new technology and deliver his reply. It could be stunning: he has worked for this moment for a lifetime in the pool. It is what coach Jacco Verhaeren calls 'his dream, our passion'.

'He's in very good shape, he needs to be because there are a lot of the competitors who are really fast. But I think there's a chance ... and if there is a chance, he will take it,' Jacco told reporters. The clash of the 4x100m free and the 200 free is behind a decision to withdraw from the event in which Hoogie took gold in 2000 and silver in 2004, in a switch of places with Ian Thorpe.

As the Dutchman trotted off the poolside after his session, broad smile on his face, he looked like a happy, hungry man. A dangerous animal if ever there was one.