Thorpe says he expects to fail in Olympic bid

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SYDNEY (AP) — Ian Thorpe, winner of five Olympic gold medals, doesn't like his chances of making it six after a less than impressive return from a five-year retirement.

Thorpe said Wednesday he expects to fail in his attempt to make the Australian Olympic team for London 2012, admitting he may have made his return to competitive swimming too late.

A week before the Australian trials that will determine whether he qualifies for London, Thorpe told Australia's Network Ten that he doesn't have high expectations of making the team after modest results in lead-up events.

"The most realistic outcome of this is that I will most likely fail. ... I wish I had another six months to do this," he said in the television interview.

The 29-year-old Thorpe, who retired in November 2006 after setting 13 world records and winning 11 world championships gold medals, announced a comeback to competitive swimming nearly a year ago.

He won 200- and 400-meter freestyle golds at the 2004 Athens Olympics in his last major international meet.

In his first meets back from retirement, Thorpe struggled at short-course (25-meter pool) World Cup meets in Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo in November. That form was repeated in subsequent Olympic-distance races in Australia and Europe in the last three months.

"All of the expectation, that desire to see me do well, it exists for me in a way that it doesn't exist for other people," Thorpe said.

He will contest the 100- and 200-meter freestyle events at the Australian trials in Adelaide starting March 15.

His most likely path to the games team is a top-six finish in the 200 meters, which could get him into the Australian 4x200-meter relay team for London.

"I wish I had another six months to do this," said Thorpe, who flew to Australia this week after a training camp in Switzerland. "I wish I had more time to do it.

"I have to be swimming well. I have to be swimming fast as well in both of my races."

Australian head coach Leigh Nugent worked with Thorpe for several months before he announced his comeback. He has seen him train in Europe, watched him race in Asia and again earlier this year in Melbourne.

Nugent was in Perth on Monday to welcome Thorpe back from his European training schedule.

"He trained this morning for a couple of hours and physically he looks fantastic," Nugent said. "He's probably in the best physical shape he's been in the whole preparation he looks in pretty good trim.

"For Ian, I think now it's like: 'I've done all that and this is a whole new ballgame now, I'm getting ready for the real deal.'"

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