Saturday, August 05, 2006

VDH doubts successful comeback Ian Thorpe

Pieter van den Hoogenband told reporters on Saturday that he doubts Ian Thorpe will be a serious threat to him at the Olympics of Beijing in 2008.

“Ian is having a hard time dealing with his stardom. He fled to Los Angeles to be able to train without any distractions. It’s still very difficult for him. I know I will be ready in Beijing to face Michael Phelps. It will be a memorable race, for sure.”

A front page story in the Sydney Morning Herald headlined "The good life catches up with Thorpedo". The story began: "He munches on pizza and hamburgers and slurps cola. He hasn't been training. And Ian Thorpe, the five-time Olympic champion is getting fat." It ran beside a photo showing Thorpe in a singlet carrying a cola drink (see the 'before-and-after" shots above).

Thorpe had relocated to Los Angeles temporarily to find motivation and would have probably quit the sport if he hadn't. Team Thorpe, including his Grand Slam International management and Sydney-based coach Tracey Menzies, declined to discuss the issue, insisting the star swimmer was "really happy over there" and they were not "concerned about the story at all".

Thorpe, despite being 195cm tall, has never had a chiselled physique. His ideal racing weight has varied around the 100kg mark, but now that he had focussed on sprint events and increased his gym workload it is to be expected that a 23-year-old man would gain some kilos.

Former swimming champion Kieren Perkins said Thorpe had plenty of time to get fit, it was whether he would get back to his best that remained the worrying question. "I don't think we need to worry about whether or not Ian can get fit," Perkins told the ABC. "We need to worry about whether or not when it comes down to that last 50-metre sprint against his competition, whether or not he's got enough underlying base there to allow his body to get him to the line."

Thorpe's progress has been stalled this year by a bout of glandular fever that ruled him out of the Commonwealth Games before a broken hand further delayed his training.


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