Sydney: Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe
is to make an announcement about his future, his manager said
on Tuesday, amid mounting speculation he is to return to the pool
for next year`s Olympics in London.
Manager David Flaskas said Thorpe, who retired in 2006
citing waning motivation, would address the media in Sydney
tomorrow "about his swimming future".
"He`ll let everyone know tomorrow," Flaskas told AFP,
refusing to be drawn on whether it was about a return to the
sport. Come along to the press conference and Ian can say what
he wants to say."
Media speculation of a comeback has been rife since
Thorpe, 28, resumed swimming in recent months to recuperate
from a shoulder injury.
He must be reinstated on the international drug testing
register at least nine months before competing, meaning any
decision on contesting in London would need to be taken soon.
Five-time Olympic champion Thorpe won 11 world titles and
set 13 long-course records before announcing his retirement in
November 2006, saying he had lost the desire to compete.
He was just 24.
Nicknamed the "Thorpedo", the masterful freestyler became
one of the world`s best-known swimmers, constantly raising the
bar through his sublime technique and awesome power.
Australia`s most decorated Olympian, Thorpe was dogged by
doping allegations after a French newspaper published claims
following his retirement that he had tested positive for
testosterone and another performance-enhancing hormone.
He was subsequently cleared by Australian authorities and
world swimming body FINA, but said he feared he would never be
able to fully restore his reputation.
Thorpe bowed out of the sport after a lengthy battle with
illness and injury and has made no secret of his
disappointment that his career ended on such a low note.
Once the centre of sponsorship deals worth millions, he
has also struggled financially since retirement, according to
local media, with the global financial crisis eroding his
investments and businesses.
Thorpe`s 400m freestyle world record, set at the
Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games, is still just 1/100th of a
second behind the current record, which was achieved with a
banned bodysuit at the 2009 world championships in Rome.
Australia head coach Leigh Nugent said getting Thorpe up
to scratch for his pet 400m event in time for London "would be
a big ask, but I wouldn`t say he couldn`t do it."
"You would think he would be able to become competitive
again in the 200m, although he would have to approach it
differently from the way he did in the past," Nugent said.
"If he`s going to have a crack he`s going to have to do
Thorpe would have to get on the drug testing register by
the end of May in order to be eligible for the 2012 London
Olympic trials in March, and Flaskas said there was
overwhelming public support for a comeback.