Thu, May 19, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Australia’s Thorpe back in fighting shape for return


Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe returned to Australia yesterday after 10 days of high-altitude training in Switzerland, saying he’s “starting to look like a swimmer again.”

The 28-year-old Thorpe, who is targeting a place on the Australia team for next year’s London Olympics after announcing his comeback in February, plans to meet with head coach Leigh Nugent before returning to his Switzerland base at the end of the week.

Thorpe said he would concentrate on the 100m and 200m freestyle events and drop the 400m, an event in which he once held the world record.

“I honestly don’t think I’d have enough time to do anything for the 400m,” Thorpe said.

The 200m could put him up against US star Michael Phelps, who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.

Thorpe and Phelps last met in the event dubbed the “Race of the Century,” the 200m freestyle final at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

Thorpe won, Dutch swimmer Pieter van den Hoogenband was second and Phelps was third. However, that was well before Phelps established himself as the most prolific race winner and record holder since Thorpe.

Thorpe, training under Russian coach Gennadi Touretski, is expected to make his competitive return at a World Cup series meet in Singapore in November. An appearance at December’s Queensland state titles is likely to be his first race in Australia.

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