|A retirement and a come back
||[Feb. 1st, 2011|07:50 pm]
*peeks out from under a rock*
The most gracious Olympic superstar in recent memory has hung up his swim suit. 7-time Olympic medalist, Aaron Peirsol, has officially retired according to his longtime coach, Eddie Reese.
Rumors have been circulating for some time that Peirsol was considering retirement, though most Olympic analysts didn't give them much credence. Peirsol, always understated and exceedingly humble, was often challenged in his forte, the backstroke, but rarely beaten.
Peirsol was most passionate about his philanthropic efforts for Ocean conservation. If you wanted Peirsol's attention in a crowded pressroom, you only needed to ask about his cause, Race for the Oceans.
Peirsol also had a strong base of fans, young and old. He was, simply put, accessible to anyone and very gentle in manner. Peirsol was and "is" the gentleman Olympian, an athlete future stars should study and emulate.
I expect to see Peirsol redefine the role of Olympic Ambassador. With the respect and affection he commands among his peers, he will surely be a leader.
SYDNEY -- Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe is coming out of retirement, hoping to make Australia's team for next year's London Games.
Speaking at a media conference Wednesday, the 28-year-old Thorpe said he is returning to competitive swimming and will train ahead of the Australian Olympic selection trials in February or March 2012.
He said he will concentrate on the 100-meter freestyle and hopes to compete in the relay events at London.
"It hasn't been something that I have taken lightly in making a decision in returning to competitive swimming, but I actually made a decision in September," Thorpe said.
Thorpe said he would spend most of his training in the lead-up to the London Games in Abu Dhabi and Europe.
Thorpe retired in November 2006 after setting 13 world records and winning 11 world championship golds. He won the 200- and 400-meter freestyle at the 2004 Athens Olympics in his last major international meet.
"When I made that decision [to return to swimming] I ... was not able to say anything because I was commentating for the BBC, so it was sitting in my gut for a while," he said.
"I was then taken to see the swimming venue for the London Games. It was an extraordinary venue, and I could actually taste it. I haven't felt like swimming like that for a very long time."
Thorpe burst onto the international stage as a teenager in 1999 and won three gold medals -- all in world record times -- and two silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Nicknamed 'Thorpedo,' he was the world's highest-profile swimmer until Michael Phelps came onto the scene, and had a list of lucrative endorsement deals. But Thorpe admitted last year that he had financial problems after his personal savings were affected by the global economic crisis.
He said Wednesday he was not motivated by money in his comeback, only performance.
"I didn't get back in the pool to get fit, I didn't get back in the pool for any other reason than to be back ... at being able to compete at an elite level," he said.
"When I initiated the training, I promised myself first to train for three days, then I said if I got through that I would give myself three weeks, and if I got through three weeks I would get through three months then make a decision about this."
He said he asked friends to lie about his plans in order not to derail his comeback, but did not tell his family until January.
Thorpe sparked rumors of a comeback when he was spotted training in Sydney. Swimming Australia coach Leigh Nugent also confirmed recently he'd been in regular contact, offering advice on how to regain fitness in the pool.
"I never thought I would be swimming in a competitive way again, but I'm glad that I am," Thorpe said. "I've spent four years away from the pool and I needed those four years.
"I'm returning to competitive swimming ... I'm back in and I'm happy with what I'm doing."