Ian Thorpe out of World Cup in Tokyo
TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Thorpe waits to compete in the men’s 100m freestyle heat at the World Cup. REUTERS photo
Australian former star Ian Thorpe’s Asia World Cup series ended with a whimper in the morning heats in Tokyo yesterday when he finished 26th overall in the men’s 100-meter butterfly.
The five-time Olympic gold medalist clocked 53.59 seconds, far behind top finisher Takeshi Matsuda of Japan in 51.39, failing to qualify for the final.
The Japanese duo of Ryo Takayasu and Kazuya Kaneda followed Matsuda in 51.40 and 51.63, respectively. Takayasu went on to claim the final in 50.52.
“This week has been challenging, but has been very good,” said Thorpe. “I wish I could have done it with no one watching but that’s unfortunately not the case. I am very comfortable with where I’m at.”
On Saturday, Thorpe also failed to qualify for the final of the men’s 100m freestyle after finishing 12th with 49.45. He then pulled out of the 100m individual medley, citing a poor physical condition.
Thorpe’s exit marked a disappointing return to action for the former Olympic champion ahead of Australia’s Olympic trials in March, where he will bid to qualify for London 2012. He had quit the sport in 2006 aged 24, but returned to competition this year.
In the finals, host Japan -- who won eight out of 17 titles on Saturday -- added nine gold medals, while Australia took three to add to Saturday’s four.
Two-time Olympic double gold medalist Kosuke Kitajima, who was fifth in the men’s 50m and 200m breaststroke, finally won a medal when he finished third in the 100m in 58.36 seconds, behind fellow Japanese Ryo Tateishi and Australia’s Christian Sprenger.
“I want to win at the qualifying races for the Olympics in April,” said the 29-year-old from Tokyo.
“It will be tense. But you will become tense only once in four years. I’ll just try to work hard,” he said.