Ian Thorpe unfazed by slow times

Seoul: Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe said he aims to compete in next year`s London Olympics and is not disappointed by a recent string of slow performances during his comeback.

Thorpe, 29, announced his return to the pool in February after retiring in 2006 due to what he said was a loss of privacy in his life and training.

"I`m not disappointed at all. I expected my first race wouldn`t be that fast and that`s what it was," Thorpe told a press conference marking the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between South Korea and Australia.

Thorpe, who faces a selection trial for the Australian Olympic team in March, failed to make the podium at meets this month in Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo.

"It`s pretty natural for anyone who has spent any time out of the pool, let alone how long I`ve spent. So my performance is on track, where I`d like to head...and technically, I`m swimming better," he said.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist, dubbed "Thorpedo" by fans, didn`t hide the difficulties he is facing with his comeback, likening it to restarting a car after five years.

"It doesn`t matter how good the car is, it`s still going to be difficult and I`m experiencing this," he said. "There are...some things I need to improve on, but I think most importantly, I rediscovered love and passion for the sport. I don`t think I can underestimate the value of that."

Thorpe stunned the swimming world when he retired at age 24.

"At that time, I didn`t think I`d compete again...so I surprised myself that I wanted to do this," he said, adding he had witnessed incredible progress in swimming during his retirement.

"What`s fantastic about this progression is that it`s from all over the world. It`s not one or two countries...but it`s really spreading throughout the world."

Money is not the reason for his return, he said. "I can`t motivate myself to just get up early for money. It doesn`t work...I`m only able to do this because I found my passion."

Bureau Report

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