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UPDATED: 09:33, July 23, 2004
Olympic Preview: Luo prepares for world-record breaking performance
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Treble world champion Luo Xuejuan is preparing to clinch her first ever Olympic gold medal and there is more on her mind: breaking the women's 100m breaststroke world record.

Luo, eighth-place finisher at the Sydney Olympic Games, has grown into one of the biggest favorites for the 100m breaststroke title at the Aug. 13-29 Athens Games.

"Luo's goal is to win the 100m breaststroke and it will be most satisfying if she win with a world-record time," said Luo's coach Zhang Yadong.

The 20-year-old defended her 100m breaststroke glory at the Barcelona World Championships last July in her personal best time of one minute 06.80 seconds before she defended the 50m title and grabbed the 4x100m medley relay victory for China.

"I won the 100m in my personal best but I feel it was a pity that I failed to break the world record," said Luo, who was 0.43 second outside the world mark set by Australian ace Leisel Jones in the semi-final.

But Luo's golden goals seem to be harder to reach as her major opponent Jones is in a rising form with the Athens Games coming near.

Athens-bound Jones clocked 2:22.96 in the 200m breaststroke event, shaving 0.03 seconds off the previous world record at the Telstra Grand Prix on July 10 before former record-holder American Amanda Beard reclaimed the world mark in 2:22.44 at the U.S. Olympic trial a week later.

"Jones has improved her stamina which will help her do better in the 100m," said Qi Hui's coach Ye Jin. Qi formerly shared the 200m world record with Beard.

"We won't be obsessed with their good results but concentrate on the training. We have to wait to see the who has the last laugh at the Olympics," said Zhang.

A doctor specialized in sporting psychology also showed his confidence in the southerner.

"She is a strong-minded girl and very tough. The fiercer the competition gets, the better she can perform," said the doctor surnamed Zhang, who is a researcher with the country's sports governing body.

Starting swimming at six, Luo has always cut a confident figure and never conceals her strong desire for victories.

"During competition, I will picture myself as a wild beast about to pounce on its prey," said the 1.68m Luo. "The prey, of cause, is the gold medal."

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