Originally created 03/27/04

Thorpe disqualified from 400 freestyle heats



SYDNEY, Australia -- World record-holder Ian Thorpe was disqualified from the 400-meter freestyle in the Australian Olympic trials Saturday after falling off the starting block.

The decision means the 21-year-old Olympic champion could miss the event in the Athens Games if an appeal is unsuccessful.

Thorpe overbalanced on the blocks and fell into the water before the start of his qualifying heat on the opening day of the eight-day trials.

He got out of the pool and returned to the blocks with the rest of the competitors, but an official walked over to his No. 4 block and disqualified him, surprising the small crowd at the Sydney International Aquatic Center.

Thorpe's manager, Dave Flaskas, said the Olympic, world and Commonwealth champion heard a noise before he fell into the water. He said Thorpe had lodged a protest.

Meet officials were later hearing the appeal and were expected to view television footage of the incident.