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Thorpe Targets 100, 200 Events in ‘Tough Ask’ Swimming Comeback

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Australian Olympian Swimmer Ian Thorpe
Australian Olympian Swimmer Ian Thorpe. Photographer: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

May 18 (Bloomberg) -- Ian Thorpe said he’s targeting the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle events as Australia’s most successful Olympian builds his swimming comeback toward the 2012 London Games.

Thorpe, who announced his return to competition in February after quitting in 2006, said he dropped the 400-meter discipline, in which he won two Olympic gold medals, because he doesn’t have enough time to prepare properly.

“I’m definite on what I will be swimming,” Thorpe, 28, told reporters in Sydney today. “It’s 100 and 200 freestyle and I’m preparing for both of those now. Already with what I’m doing in the time frame that I have, it’s a tough ask.”

Thorpe last raced at a major meet at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he won two golds, one silver and one bronze to lift his Olympic medal tally to nine, an Australian record. He also captured 11 world championship titles.

He isn’t eligible to compete again until his name has been on the sport’s drug-testing register for nine months, meaning his competitive return is likely to be at a November World Cup meet in Singapore.

Thorpe said he was “satisfied” with his progress after recently completing 10 days of high-altitude training in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He’s been working with Gennadi Touretski, the Russian coach who guided Alex Popov to the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle gold medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics.

“I look a little bit more like a swimmer now,” Thorpe said. “I’m content where I’m at but I have a lot to do. Satisfied doesn’t mean I’m there, by no means.”

The 100-meter times set at April’s Australian Swimming Championships, which doubled as selection trials for July’s World Championships in Shanghai, highlighted the challenge ahead, Thorpe said.

“I looked at the trials we had here in the 100 meters and there were fantastic results,” he said. “I will have to swim at my best just to make that relay team, simple as that.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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