Failure to reach Olympics probable, warns Thorpe

By Patrick Johnston

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Ian Thorpe's bold attempt to take part in the 2012 London Games after a five-year retirement is more likely to end in failure than a fairytale gold, the Australian swimmer said on Thursday.

With few race opportunities between now and the Adelaide meet Thorpe, 29, said failure to reach the London Olympics was something that should be expected.

"It still is the most likely outcome and frankly I don't care," the five-times Olympic champion told reporters in Singapore on Thursday.

"I like what I am doing, I like the training that I am doing and I love that I have this opportunity, I am very grateful for that.

"I came to terms with failure when I started this. I literally looked at it and went 'you know what, chances are you are probably going to fail at this' and I was comfortable with that fact.

"If you can be comfortable with that you can actually accomplish anything and you kind of set yourself free to just get on with it."

While the 1.95 meter Sydney-born swimmer with the enormous feet tried to play down expectation he did also say that he was 'give or take five percent' on track to return to the levels that made him a household name.


However, he admitted that part of the reason for avoiding his favored freestyle and choosing the unfamiliar 100 meter medley for his comeback race -- an event he has not competed in since winning silver at the 2003 world championship -- was so that people could not compare his times of old.

"It is not going to be extraordinary and it is not going to be horrible. That is quite a vast range so I'm going to hit something in the middle," said Thorpe, who will also compete in the 100m butterfly on Saturday.

"I have to kind of remind myself that I'm the guy who hasn't swum for five years and I forget it from time to time. It's my first time back in the pool and it's not going to be easy.

"There are days when I feel that I am the best swimmer in the world and then the next day I will be hopeless."

"I did the right thing in 2006. If I didn't have time away from the sport I wouldn't have swum well and secondly I would have been really bitter at this sport and I don't want to feel that way.

"I have realized in that returning to the pool this is something I want to keep doing and the way I felt about swimming to how I feel about it now is stark contrast.

"Swimming is not a sport you can do well if you don't love it. We train to hard and do too many hours not to love this. When you have time away from something... you seem to forget all the things that you didn't like about it and you rediscover the things you love about the sport."

(Editing by John O'Brien)