Australia's Ian Thorpe beat fellow Olympic gold medallist Grant Hackett in the 400 metres freestyle at the national championships on Monday, but missed his own world record by 0.37 seconds. Thorpe's time of three minutes 40.54 seconds was outside the world record of 3:40.17 which he set while winning one of a record six gold medals at last year's world championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Hackett, second to Thorpe in the event in the 1998 and 2001 world championships, clocked 3:45.39 after shadowing the 19-year-old for the first 250 metres. Wearing his trademark full-length black bodysuit, Thorpe said it was his most physically demanding race for two years.

"Considering the amount of work I've put in, I was a little bit disappointed," Thorpe told reporters. "I think it's one of the swims that's really taken a lot out of me. I haven't felt as bad after a race for quite some time. I would have liked to go a little bit faster but all of us do."

Thorpe, named last month as the world's most outstanding athlete, is world record holder in the 200, 400 and 800 metres freestyle and won the 400 at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Filed by Sinéad Kissane