Thorpedo confirms London Olympics bid
Ian Thorpe speaks to the media to announce his return to swimming for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Photograph: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Swimming: Ian Thorpe has confirmed he will come out of retirement and return to international swimming in a bid to compete at the 2012 London Olympics. Thorpe, who walked away from elite swimming four years ago, made the announcement at a packed media conference in Sydney today.
The 28-year-old, nicknamed "The Thorpedo", revealed he reached his decision in September and has been training in eight different Sydney pools in a bid to keep his comeback a secret.
He says good friend Geoff Huegill's successful return to the pool at the Delhi Commonwealth Games and a visit to the Olympic venue in London reignited his passion for the sport.
"It hasn't been something that I have taken lightly in making a decision to return to competitive swimming but I actually made a decision in September," Thorpe said.
"When I made that decision I was flying over the Atlantic and I then went on to not being able to say anything because I was actually commentating for the BBC so it was sitting in my gut for a while.
"I was then taken to see the swimming venue for the London Olympics. It's an extraordinary venue and I could actually taste it ... and I haven't felt this way about swimming for a very long time.
"I didn't at any stage get back into the pool to get fit. I didn't get back in the pool for any other reason than to be back at the stage of being able to compete at an elite level.
"So when I initiated the training I promised myself first to train for three days without pulling the pin on it, then I said if I got through that I would give myself three weeks, and if I got through three weeks I'll go for three months then make a decision about this."
Thorpe, who collected nine Olympic medals including five gold, 11 World Championship gold medals and 10 Commonwealth golds before retiring, will be based in Abu Dhabi in a bid to avoid the media spotlight in Australia.
Australian head coach Leigh Nugent, who has been coaching Thorpe via text message since September, will continue to oversee his training from Australia in conjunction with other unnamed international coaches.
Thorpe plans to target the 100m and 200m freestyle relays but would not rule out contesting the 100m and 200m individual events should he successfully qualify at the Olympic trials next March.
He also indicated he may continue swimming beyond the London Olympics.
"I never thought this would happen," Thorpe said. "I never thought that I'd be swimming in a competitive way.
"I'm very glad that I am. I've spent four years away from the pool and I needed those four years. I'm back in and I am happy with what I am doing."
Australia's most successful Olympian dabbled in television presenting, fashion design and a wide range of business ventures over the last four years.
He now has 19 months to prepare for his third Olympic Games but must wait nine months before he can return to international competition.
Under FINA regulations, competitors must be registered for drug testing for at least nine months before returning to competitive swimming, meaning Thorpe must apply by May in order to contest the Olympic trials next March.