Thorpe ends retirement, looks to 2012 Olympics

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Sydney, Feb 2 (AP) Five-time Olympic gold medalist IanThorpe will end more than four years of retirement with thegoal of swimming at next year''s London Games.

Speaking at a media conference today, Thorpe, 28, said heis returning to competitive swimming and will train ahead ofthe Australian Olympic selection trials in February or March2012. He said he will concentrate on the 100-meters freestylewith a view to competing in the relay events at London.

"It hasn''t been something that I have taken lightly inmaking a decision in returning to competitive swimming, but Iactually made a decision in September," Thorpe said.

Thorpe said he would spend most of his training in thelead-up to the London Games in Abu Dhabi and Europe. Thorperetired in November 2006 after setting 13 world records andwinning 11 world championship golds. He won the 200- and400-meters freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics in his lastmajor international meet.

"When I made that decision (to return to swimming) I ...

was not able to say anything because I was commentating forthe BBC, so it was sitting in my gut for a while," he said.

"I was then taken to see the swimming venue for theLondon Games. It was an extraordinary venue, and I couldactually taste it. I haven''t felt like swimming like that fora very long time."

Thorpe burst onto the international stage as a teenagerin 1999 and won three gold medals - all in world record times- and two silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The man dubbed ''Thorpedo'' was the world''s highest-profileswimmer until Michael Phelps came onto the scene, and had alist of lucrative endorsement deals. But Thorpe admitted lastyear that he''d had financial problems after his personalsavings were affected by the global economic crisis.

He said Wednesday he was not motivated by money in hiscomeback, only performance.

"I didn''t get back in the pool to get fit, I didn''t getback in the pool for any other reason than to be back ... atbeing able to compete at an elite level," he said.

"When I initiated the training, I promised myself firstto train for three days, then I said if I got through that Iwould give myself three weeks, and if I got through threeweeks I would get through three months then make a decisionabout this."

He said he asked friends to lie about his plans in ordernot to derail his comeback, but did not tell his family untilJanuary. Thorpe sparked rumors of a comeback when he wasspotted in recent months training in Sydney.

Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent also recentlyconfirmed he''d been in regular contact, offering advice on howto regain fitness in the pool.

"I never thought I would be swimming in a competitive wayagain, but I''m glad that I am," Thorpe said. "I''ve spent fouryears away from the pool and I needed those four years.

"I''m returning to competitive swimming ... I''m back inand I''m happy with what I''m doing." (AP) PM

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