The Thorpedo was a dud.
Ian Thorpe's Olympic comeback bid fell woefully short on Friday when the former gold medalist failed to qualify for the finals of his signature event at the Australian Swimming Championships. The nine-time Olympic medalist finished 12th in his signature event, the 200-meter freestyle.
"The fairytale has turned into a nightmare," he said after.
Thorpe still has a chance to make the Australian Olympic team in the 100m free, but his poor performance in the 200 suggests the result will be the same.
He returned to the sport in November after a five-year layoff and set his sights on London. Thorpe's announcement was big news in Australia, where he remains rock-star-famous thanks to his previous athletic exploits. He won three golds at the Sydney Games in 2000, including anchoring the historic defeat of the United States in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay. Then 17, Thorpe famously strummed an air guitar after the race, mocking the pre-race boasts of American sprinter Gary Hall.
Overall, Thorpe won nine Olympic medals, including five golds.
As a 29-year-old, Thorpe was never able to regain his dominance in the pool. He sounded resigned to his comeback's failure before it even started. Days before he was scheduled to get back in the pool, he sat for an interview with a British newspaper.
"I'm more comfortable knowing that, chances are, I'm going to fail at this," he said at the time. "I've become comfortable with that."
- Ian Thorpe