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Thorpe reiterates doubts about Phelps' medal quest
09:14, August 05, 2008

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe stood firm on his views that Michael Phelps' quest for eight gold medals at the Beijing Games will fail.

"I don't think he will (do it)," Thorpe said yesterday during the grand opening ceremony of the Omega Pavilion in Olympic Park.

"It's not a matter of asking how many you think someone can win because there's competition and there are too many variables."

Thorpe, who retired in 2006 citing a lack of motivation, made a splash last month saying he doubted whether Phelps would be able to equal or better Mark Spitz's historic seven-gold haul at the 1972 Olympics.

Phelps said in response that Thorpe's comments could fuel him to perform even better in Beijing. The American swimming sensation has a copy of the article with Thorpe's quotes in his locker as inspiration.

But Thorpe - the greatest swimmer in Australian history and a winner of 11 World Championship gold medals and five Olympic golds - tried to bring Phelps back to earth because he believes it is too early to predict a winner in the Olympic competition, which always brings out the best in every swimmer.

"There might be someone who puts on an extraordinary performance, break the world record and touch the wall ahead of Phelps," he said.

Thorpe happens to be one of the people who spoiled Phelps' previous quest for the same feat at the 2004 Athens Games by winning the men's 200m freestyle. The American finished third with Dutchman Pieter Van den Hoogenband taking second.

The US team then finished third in the 4x100m freestyle relay, denying Phelps the chance to equal Spitz's haul at seven. Phelps eventually left Athens with six gold medals.

Thorpe says he has a lot of respect for Phelps, but winning eight golds at one Games seems out of the reach of human possibility.

"I would love to see anyone who is able to win eight gold medals," he said. "If people on the planet are capable of doing that, Michael Phelps is one of those people."

He added the Beijing Games would be an extraordinary one for Phelps even if he were not able to win eight.

Phelps has already come very close to the eight-gold mark - he won seven gold medals at last year's World Championships in Melbourne.

He was denied an almost certain eighth when the US team was disqualified from the medley relay.

At recent US trials, Phelps has won five individual events, setting world records in the 200m and 400m individual medley.

Thorpe also said the US will probably beat traditional rival Australia in the pool.

Source:China Daily

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