BRISBANE: Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe will not revive his swimming career at next week’s Australian trials for the world championships.
While Thorpe had said in January that he might return to the pool in the next two years, and possibly compete at the 2016 Rio Olympics, he was absent from the list of nominations for the trials.
Swimming Australia confirmed on Friday that the 30-year-old had not entered any races and nominations have closed.
The event, which starts next Friday, doubles as the national championships and trials for the Barcelona worlds in July. Thorpe retired in November 2006 after setting 13 world records and winning 11 world championship golds. He came out of retirement last year in a bid to swim at the London Olympics, but failed to qualify.
Australian media reports have suggested Thorpe, who has very little contact with Swimming Australia since late last year, would attempt to qualify for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and if successful there, continue on to Rio.
But it’s approaching a decade since Thorpe won his last Olympic gold medals the 200 and 400 freestyle at the 2004 Athens Games, his last major international meet. He also won the 200-400 double at the world championships also in Barcelona in 2003.
Thorpe worked as an analyst for the BBC during the London Olympics and has been living in Europe. He has maintained since his Olympic trials failure in Australia that with a good preparation, he could return to swimming at a top level.
“I still have a life in the pool,” Thorpe has said. “I simply didn’t have enough time (before London) to prepare the way I wanted to and I had to compromise.” Thorpe’s comeback attempt at the Australian trials in April last year was a flop. In the 200 freestyle, he was tied for fifth-fastest in morning qualifying but faded badly in the semifinals and finished 12th, missing the final.
“The fairytale has turned into a nightmare,” he said after that race.
Things didn’t improve. Thorpe failed to break 50 seconds and was not among the top 16 which qualified for the semifinals in the 100. That ended his bid for the London Games.
“When I started this I wanted to get back into the pool, I wanted to start racing again,” Thorpe said at the time. “I wanted to be competitive again and I wanted to go to the Olympics.” He said after his failed bid that he’d set the world championships in Barcelona as his next goal, but that’s no longer happening.
He hasn’t been completely out of the news since the Olympics. The Australian Broadcasting Corp. aired a documentary about his comeback leading up to the Australian trials. In October, coinciding with his 30th birthday, Thorpe released his book, “This is Me: The Autobiography” in which he spoke of his frequent battles with depression and often heavy alcohol consumption.
He also set the record straight on persistent rumors about his sexuality.