November 28 - Nick D'Arcy (pictured),  the Australian swimmer dropped from his country's Olympic team after he assaulted a former team-mate, has set his sights on competing in next year's Commonwealth Games before turning his focus to the London 2012 Olympics.


The Australian 200 metres butterfly record holder was charged with assault after an alleged brawl with former Commonwealth Games triple gold medallist Simon Cowley on the night he was named in the country's Olympic team in April 2008.


Cowley required five plates and 20 screws inserted into his face to repair injuries following the incident.


D'Arcy admitted the incident and in March was given a suspended sentence of 14 months and 12 days.


In an interview published in The Sun-Herald, D'Arcy admitted that he did consider walking away from the sport.


He told the newspaper: ''Obviously [quitting swimming] was going through my mind, multiple times.


''My parents kept me on track and encouraged me, but at the same time they didn't force me.


''They said, 'You've got a lot left in the sport, there's a lot you can accomplish, but at the same time if you gave it away that wouldn't be a problem'.


''That was important to have their support either way because they could see the stress it was putting on me.


''And they could still see the potential I had in the sport, even when I couldn't see that.


''It's important to have someone else who can see that.


''Staying in the sport was primarily due to my parents.


''Obviously I'm looking to make the Commonwealth Games team and that's as far as I'm looking.


''I'd like to make that for my family's sake.


"They've stuck by me this whole time and I'd like to reward them for something like that.


''I've just had a good network of people and that's what has kept me in the sport.


''I have that feeling now of wanting to accomplish all the stuff I wasn't able to in the last two years.''


Others to have stuck by him include Brian Stehr, his coach of 16 years.


He said: ''There was a time there when I wouldn't have been surprised if he had have walked away."


D'Arcy has now returned to international competition and last month beat Michael Phelps at the World Cup in Stockholm.


D'Arcy said: ''It was a good feeling to get on top of him.''


Since returning to international competition this month, D'Arcy has earned a fourth in Stockholm, a bronze in Berlin and a silver in Singapore.


That has led Stehr to start thinking beyond just the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi next year about also London 2012.


He said: ''One of Nick's strengths is his faith in his own ability.


"He wants to race the best.


''When he gets on the blocks to race the best in the world, he's on there to beat them now.


''I'd be very surprised if he doesn't go through to the next Olympics, at least.


''You've got to remember, he's 22 going on 23 and he hasn't been to an Olympics, Commonwealth Games or World Championships as yet.


''He doesn't have to get much better to be the best in the world."



Related stories

April 2009: D'Arcy dropped from World Championship team for Rome

March 2009: Australian swimmer looks to London after escaping prison

December 2008: Aussie Olympians face tough new checks before London 2012

May 2008: Australian swimmer to be sentenced next month