News24

Thorpe denies 'foxing'

2012-03-14 10:14

Adelaide - Ian Thorpe on Wednesday denied he has been deliberately swimming slow times since his comeback to keep the pressure off ahead of Australia's Olympic trials this week.

The 29-year-old, Australia's most successful Olympian, will attempt to qualify for the London Games after modest results in lead-up events since coming out of retirement in November.

Thorpe, who won a total of five golds at the Sydney and Athens Olympics, has struggled to reproduce anywhere near the times he achieved in his prime, but coaches and rival swimmers have warned against writing him off.

Newspapers on Wednesday suggested part of his plan had always been to stay low-key to minimise pressure with one senior coaching source telling News Limited: "The talk is he is definitely swimming a lot faster than he is letting on."

At a pre-trials press conference, Thorpe denied he had been "foxing" in a string of disappointing showings since returning to competition.

"I've been asked this by friends as well," he said.

"There may have been a period when I first started back, when I was hoping I might be able to do it (foxing). But unfortunately I have not had that luxury so frankly, no."

But the "Thorpedo", who ruled the pool from 1998 to 2004, taking nine Olympic medals and 11 world titles while setting 13 long course world records, said he was still upbeat.

"I'm probably as confident as I've been in my preparation," he said.

Thorpe will be attempting to qualify in the 100m and 200m freestyle events.

Australia's selection policy is to pick the top two from each Olympic trial to go to London, with a top-six finish in either the 100m or 200m securing a place on the relay squad.

Thorpe's 200m freestyle world record (1:44.06) set in 2001 remains the Australian record, but his 100m career best of 48.56secs only places him ninth on Australia's all-time list at that distance.

"I'm not sure how fast I can go at this stage," he said. "I'm nervous about the upcoming days."

Asked if he could win the 200m freestyle, Thorpe said: "I'll be trying to, I think I'll have to.

"I haven't swum fast enough to say that I can do that... there is a lot of things I have to get right."

He added that he would consider making the London team an equal achievement to making his first Olympics in Sydney 2000.

"There will be a tremendous sense of relief when it happens."

Thorpe and other comeback stars Michael Klim and Libby Trickett have been embroiled this week in controversy over the perception they have been shown favoritism by receiving handouts above the performance-based funding system.

It followed weekend reports that Australian swimmers were demanding their governing body declare how much money has been spent to bankroll the returning former stars.

Thorpe denied he had been shown any favorable treatment.

"I haven't been paid a cent. I think it's been clarified by a number of people. What's been reported isn't factual," he said.

"There's been a number of athletes who have been supported by Swimming Australia, the funding that's come from that is not dissimilar to what's been provided (to me).

AFP