Swimming: Thorpedo's speed a mystery even to him

Ian Thorpe. Photo / AP
Ian Thorpe. Photo / AP

Ian Thorpe has the answers to all the questions - except the big one.

"I am not sure how fast I can go," Australia's most successful Olympian said yesterday.

Australia's greatest sporting comeback has reached tipping point: swimming selection trials for the London Games.

The five-time Olympic gold medallist has prepared himself mentally for failure - but admits he'll still be "gutted" if he flops at the trials in Adelaide from today.

But ominously, Thorpe is as physically confident as he's been since his last major competitive swim meet - way back in 2006.

He remains a swimming headline - a dozen television cameras, more still cameras, about 20 journalists from Australia and abroad - and a documentary crew - trailed his every move at a media conference in the South Australian capital yesterday.

Thorpe - at 29, an old hand at being the star of a media circus - was relaxed and thoughtful, without being overly expansive.

Yes, he's nervous.

No, he has nothing to prove.

Yes, he wants to win his new pet event, the 200m freestyle. "But I haven't swum fast enough to say that I think I can do that," he admitted.

Yes, he's feeling the pressure.

No, he hasn't "been paid a cent" by Swimming Australia outside of training and sports science costs.

Yes, he's disappointed media have reported his comeback has been bankrolled by the sport's peak body.

"These thing happen ... it's not great that they happen, but they happen," he said.

No, he hasn't been foxing with his mediocre times in his comeback so far.

"There may have been a period when I first started back in swimming and I was hoping that I might be able to do it," he said. "But unfortunately, I haven't had that luxury."

And yes, he's back because retirement couldn't sate the competitive animal within.

"There is a part of you as an athlete that you never let go of, that is always going to be a part of you - that competitive side," Thorpe said.

"And I wanted to be able to compete at a very elite level once again."

- AAP

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