Thorpe announces swimming comeback
Five-time Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe has confirmed he will come out of retirement in a bid to compete at the 2012 London Olympics.
The 28-year-old Australian quit in 2006 and had denied several reports of a return to international swimming.
Thorpe revealed his decision came after visiting the swimming venue in London, describing it as "extraordinary".
"It hasn't been something I've taken lightly, I made the decision last September," he said.
"I went to see the swimming venue for the London Olympics and it's an extraordinary venue and I could taste it, which is something I haven't felt for a very, very long time.
IAN THORPE MEDAL HAUL
Olympic Games: 5 Golds, 3 Silvers, 1 Bronze
World Championships: 10 Golds, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
Commonwealth Games: 10 Golds, 1 Silver
World records set: 13
"I didn't get back into the pool to get fit, I got back into it for no other reason than to get back to the stage where I could compete at an elite level."
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe said: "Great news that Ian is making a comeback at the London Games next year.
"He has always been an outstanding competitor, a legend in his sport and the British fans remember his extraordinary performance at the Manchester Commonwealth Games in 2002.
"I took Ian around the Olympic Park at the end of last year and he was clearly thinking about his future.
"I am pretty sure what he saw in the Olympic Park tipped the balance."
Thorpe confirmed he has registered for Swimming Australia's drug testing regime in order to be eligible to take part in the Australian Olympic selection trials in March 2012.
Under the regulations of governing body Fina, he will not be able to swim competitively for nine months after his registration, but he will spend the majority of his time training in Abu Dhabi and Europe.
The 'Thorpedo' won three gold medals at the 2000 Games in Sydney and added two titles in Athens four years later.
He said he would focus on competing in the relays at London, but did not rule out entering the individual races, raising the mouth-watering prospect of a a showdown with American great Michael Phelps.
It's a balancing act where fear and motivation come in - it's a great place to be on that edge
Thorpe beat Phelps in the 200m freestyle final at the 2004 Athens Olympics, but the United States competitor went on to win an unprecedented eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008.
In addition to his Olympic success, Thorpe claimed 11 world titles and 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals, six of which he won in Manchester in 2002, and set 13 long-course records.
Thorpe's manager Dave Flaskas told a Sydney newspaper in January that the swimmer had been using the pool to help in the rehabilitation of a shoulder injury.
Flaskas added that it was apparent Thorpe still had "competitive juices".
"When I initiated the training, I promised myself first to train for three days, then I said if I got through that I would give myself three weeks, and if I got through three weeks I would get through three months then make a decision about this," Thorpe continued.
"I have had an almost flawless career, and I put that at risk.
"It would have been a lot easier and sit on that and not do a thing. But there are still things in swimming that I haven't done, that I would like to achieve.
"It's a balancing act where fear and motivation come in - it's a great place to be on that edge."
Australia head coach Leigh Nugent said getting Thorpe up to scratch for his favourite 400m freestyle event in time for London "would be a big ask, but I wouldn't say he couldn't do it".
Nugent told The Australian newspaper: "You would think he would be able to become competitive again in the 200m, although he would have to approach it differently from the way he did in the past.
"If he's going to have a crack he's going to have to do it quickly."