Australia’s Thorpe eyes London Olympics comeback


Sydney : Five-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe wants to be in Australia’s 4×100-metres freestyle relay team at the 2012 London Games, news reports said Monday.

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The 27-year-old retired in 2007 but is missing competitive swimming – and the money that sponsors showered on him, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Thorpe put on a lot of weight when he left swimming and began a university degree but is back doing laps of the pool and back in condition.

To be eligible to compete at the London Olympic trials in March 2012, he would have to inform governing body FINA within the next 18 months.

“Nothing is impossible but as far as I’m aware there’s nothing startling planned for the immediate future,” David Flascas, Thorpe’s manager, told the paper.

“But he’s in great shape, he’s lost a lot of weight and is still swimming … it would make a great story, it would be a hell of a race.”

Thorpe left the sport when illness and injury put him out of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.

He said at the weekend he missed the buzz of competitive swimming. “The anxiety was always so intense,” he said. “It wasn’t a nice feeling but I miss it badly.”

The 4×100-metres freestyle relay victory in Sydney, against a fancied American squad, was the high point of his career, he said.

“That Sydney race, coming so soon after my victory in the 400-metres free that night, gave me an immense feeling of euphoria,” he said.

Michael Bohl, Stephanie Rice’s coach, was confident a comeback would be a success.

“He’s one of the best freestylers I’ve ever seen. He has an absolutely perfect stroke,” Bohl said.

Tracey Menzies, Thorpe’s former coach, said she did not know if Thorpe would come out of retirement.

“It’ll be a lot of hard work – plenty of athletes will tell him that – a long journey ahead,” she said. “He knows what he needs to do. He wouldn’t be making these calls or making a decision to come back if he didn’t know where he was at,” she said.