Mark Spitz's record haul of seven gold medals at a single Olympics will not be threatened by compatriot Michael Phelps at the Beijing Games in August, according to retired Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe.
Ian Thorpe (Photo: Xinhua)
Five-time Olympic gold medalist Thorpe, who retired at the age of 24, said tough competition for Phelps will mean Spitz's haul at the 1972 Games in Munich will remain the benchmark.
"I wish him all the very best. I don't think he will do it, but I'd love to see it," the 25-year-old told reporters in Beijing on Monday.
"There's a thing called competition. It won't just be one athlete that will be competing, and in a lot of events he has a lot of strong competition," Thorpe said.
American Phelps, 22, who will choose an event program in Beijing that will give him every chance to beat Spitz's record, won six golds in Athens in 2004.
Thorpe won three golds as a 17-year-old at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and did the 200m and 400m freestyle double in Athens.
He announced his retirement in November 2006, citing a lack of motivation.
Thorpe said he was content with life after competition and had no desire to return to the pool competitively.
"I have had inklings of getting back in and swimming, not competitively, but they last for like five seconds, and then I'm over it again," he said.
"For those brief five seconds it's a wonderful thought, but it's not going to happen until I can think about it for at least five minutes."
In November, swimming's world governing body FINA said it had abandoned its investigation into Thorpe after Australian doping authorities cleared him of any wrongdoing. The case came to light in March after test results were leaked to a French newspaper.
Thorpe, who has always maintained his innocence and vowed to take legal action once the case was closed, said he was still scarred from the controversy.
"I feel exactly the same way as before ... I don't know the words to be able to explain my grief in dealing with this and how I felt during that time and how I continue to feel to this day, being accused of something I was opposed to throughout my career," Thorpe said.
"I'm still working through that and there will be a resolution, I can tell you that, and it will happen in the next couple of years."
(Agencies via China Daily January 30, 2008)