Ian Thorpe misses Olympic qualification in the 200m freestyle at Australian trials
Thorpe can only finish 12th fastest in Friday's semifinals in Adelaide
Swimming legend will now turn his attention to the 100m freestyle
Libby Trickett fails to qualify in the women's 100m butterfly
Swimming legend Ian Thorpe suffered a major setback Friday in his bid to make the Australian team for the London Olympics.
The 13-time world record holder could only manage 12th fastest time in the semifinals of the 200m freestyle, an event he once dominated.
The 29-year-old is making his comeback to the pool after a five-year break and after an encouraging performance in the heats, came up short as he tried to qualify for the final.
Watched by a sell-out crowd in Adelaide, Thorpe’s time of one minute 49.91 seconds was slower than his morning swim despite leading through the early stages.
It was almost six seconds slower than his 2001 world record of one minute 44.06 seconds for the event.
The defeat ends hopes of a repeat of his 2004 Athens Olympics showdown over the 200m with American superstar Michael Phelps.
Thorpe, a nine-time Olympic medalist, took gold in Greece, but could not roll back the years.
“Obviously I was disappointed,” he told gathered reporters. “The more time I’ve had to digest, the more disappointed I am.”
Thorpe, who admitted in the buildup to the trials that he may have delayed his comeback too late, will have one more chance to make the Australian team over the 100m freestyle.
But he will be up against reigning world champion James Magnussen and former world record holder Eamon Sullivan with only the first two getting spots.
Thorpe could conceivably earn a place in the relay if he finishes in the top six in the final.
“I have the 100 now. I have to get myself back up,” he said.
“Tomorrow, when I get back up, I have a competition to finish now. And a competition where I have to perform well. I still want my spot on this team.”
There was also disappointment for Libby Trickett, who won gold in the 100m butterfly at the Beijing Olympics, and is returning after a short retirement.
She came third in the final behind Alicia Coutts and Jessicah Schipper to narrowly miss out.
“I can’t be disappointed,” Trickett told the official Swimming Australia website. “I did what I went out there to do tonight, I went out after it.
“So to get as close as I did is hugely confidence building. I can’t have any regrets.”