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Thorpedo torpedoed by the younger brigade

Ian Thorpe returns to swimming, photo via Foxsports
Expert
16th March, 2012
6
1065 Reads

Hundreds of hand-held posters at the Adelaide pool last night trumpeted “Go Thorpey”. It was not to be for the 29-year-old comebacker.

Having qualified equal fifth fastest for the 200 freestyle semis at the Australian Olympic selection trials, Thorpe gave the nation a genuine sniff of the seemingly impossible.

If he could qualify for the final and finish in the top six, Ian Thorpe was in the relay squad heading for the London Olympics after five years in retirement.

What was a dream in the making turned into a nightmare. Thorpe was very happy with his heat swim in the morning of 1.49.16, by far his best performance in the last five months of fruitless meets in Asia and Europe.

The happiness turned into bitter disappointment by last night.

Thorpe gave it his best shot in the semi, sitting a comfortable second to Tommaso D’Orsogna for the first 100m.

The field started to reel Thorpe in during the third lap where he turned for home in fifth. But he hit the wall big time in the final lap to finish a well-beaten sixth, and only 12th fastest of the 16 semi-finalists with a time of 1.49.91.

Which begs the question what does the future hold for Ian Thorpe?

For an icon of Australian sport, last night was a devastating downturn. Thorpe still has the 100 free to go, but it has never been one of his pet events, and the field is crash hot, led by the exciting James Magnussen, who has London gold written all over him.

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So there’s a big chance Thorpe won’t even make the semis.

To answer the question, Thorpe would be best advised to ride into the sunset. He’s too good a bloke and too fine a champion and sportsman to be among the also-rans.

But another comebacker in Libby Trickett went so close to qualifying for the 100 butterfly and the chance to defend her Olympic gold.

Needing to finish in the top two, Trickett came home strongly to finish third with 58.64 behind Alicia Coutts’ 57.59. and Jessicah Schippers’ 57.88.

Like Thorpe, the bubbly Trickett still has the 100 free to go. But unlike Thorpe, that is one of her pet events, so there’s every chance of finishing in the top six for a London relay berth.

A final word on Ian Thorpe. He is still the only Australian swimmer who can fill a stadium on his own, as he did last night.

Watch the crowds dwindle as his London bid disappears. Sadly, the sands of time have run out.

But the memories of his 37 gold medals – five Olympic, 13 world championship. 10 Commonwealth Games, and nine Pan-Pacs – plus 18 world records, will last forever.

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