World champion Grant Hackett beat world record holder and dual Olympic champion Kieren Perkins in the 1500 meters freestyle final at the Australian Olympic selection swimming trials in Sydney Saturday.
Hackett swam 14 minutes 56.35 seconds to beat Perkins (15:01.14). Craig Stevens was third in 15:22.86.
Hackett and Perkins will swim for Australia in the event at the September Games.
It was the sixth time that Hackett, the world and Commonwealth Games champion, had swum under 15 minutes in the event and it is the fastest time in the world this year.
Hackett was expected to win the race, but the main attention focused on Perkins finishing second to qualify for the Olympic team.
That was never in doubt as both swimmers pulled away from their rivals in the early stages.
Three laps from home with Perkins assured of getting second place, the capacity crowd at the Olympic pool began chanting "Kieren, Kieren" such was their admiration for the swimming great, who is bidding for a hat-trick of 1500m gold medals at the Sydney Olympics.
"The reason we're all here this week is to get into the Olympic team and I hope to do it better at the Olympics," said Hackett.
About Perkins' qualifying for the team, Hackett said, "A lot of kids have grown up watching Kieren at the Olympics and he was my hero when I was younger... I'm looking forward to the match-up with him at the Olympics."
Perkins wanted to get under the 15min barrier for the 12th time in his fabulous career.
"That would have been nice, but I've got a chance to go for the third gold medal and that's what it's all about," said Perkins.
"At the end of the day I knew I could do it and the public support has been fantastic.
"It means everything and I'm really proud to give everyone a chance to cheer for me one more time."
Perkins' task was made a little easier when main rivals Daniel Kowalski and Ian Thorpe withdrew from Friday's heat - AFP
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)