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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 15:09 GMT
Van Almsick misses Europeans

German star Franziska van Almsick has been forced to withdraw from the European Short Course Swimming Championships which start in Dublin on Thursday.

The five-times European champion has pulled out because of sinusitis.

The 25-year-old German has been advised by doctors not to swim until Thursday and has opted to pull out of the championships.

"I am really disappointed that I can not be there due to this illness," said the Olympic silver medalist.

"I wanted to have some fun in Dublin".

Berlin-born van Almsick will now focus her energies on winning Olympic Gold in Athens having missed out in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney.

"There is no concern about the Olympics," she insisted.

"There is plenty of time until then".

Michael Williamson and Andrew Bree are among five Northern Ireland swimmers included in the Irish team for the championships.

The 200 metre breaststroke specialists will be joined by Emma Robinson, Julie Douglas and Melanie Nocher in the 12-strong team for the championships which will be held at the recently-built National Aquatic Centre.

Earlier this year, Williamson claimed a bronze medal in the 200m breaststroke at the World Student Games in Korea.

NI quintet in Irish team
05 Sep 03  |  Northern Ireland
Williamson wins medal
24 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Bree fails to make semis
23 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland

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