Grant Hackett not writing VDH's arch rival Ian Thorpe off
Grant Hackett believes that if Ian Thorpe was any other swimmer he would have no chance of winning Olympic gold in Beijing. The Australia captain today threw his support behind the under-siege five-time Olympic gold medallist, saying Thorpe's freestyle dominance meant he could still come back and win international races.
Thorpe has copped a recent barrage of criticism with claims he had gained weight and was not training after relocating to Los Angeles. But Hackett said Thorpe still had time on his side and could prove all his critics wrong by coming back to win international gold.
"If Ian says he can swim fast then Ian can swim fast. Has Ian ever really let us down in the past? Never. His track record proves that when Ian says he is going to swim fast he has always got up and performed and that's over a long period, over a decade. From talking to Ian directly he wants to be part of it. If the guy says he is going to the (2007 Melbourne) world championships and going to the trials to compete fast then I have no doubt he will. It shows the attitude of a champion if he is able to get back up after this."
Hackett further commented: "The break would have done Ian well but it is starting to stretch too long now. He has still got plenty of time to Beijing as long as he doesn't have any more illness or broken hands. His times are so far ahead in those events he competes in that he probably hasn't given away too much time. If he was neck and neck in terms of the last time he raced them then I would start to be a bit concerned. He has such a gap when at his best that potentially he does still have time to get up and perform really well. It is just a matter of it all going smoothly."
Hackett (shoulder reconstruction) and Thorpe will both return to long course racing at Australia's world championship trials in Brisbane starting December 3.