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Thorpe: I (& coach) Want To Be Left Alone

Feb 24, 2011  - Craig Lord

Ian Thorpe assured reporters as he left Australia for Abu Dhabi that he has a coach and, in fine Greta Garbo style, said that he wants to be left alone to get on with his comeback in private.

For the record, Garbo corrected the myth that runs in her name when she said: "I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said, 'I want to be let [sic] alone'. So it is with Thorpe.

There would be no secret about who the coach was once he got into his training, Thorpe said. Under the guidance of head Australia coach Leigh Nugent, the swimmer is also reported to have sought advice from a number of top coaches, including Gennadi Touretski and Jacco Verhaeren. 

Bill Sweetenham, mentor to Tracey Wickham and a former AIS head coach at the helm of generations of swimmers down the years before he led Britain's revolution in the race pool 2000-2007, is the only top Australian coach who might have the flexibility that Thorpe's roving ambition demands. Thorpe's mentor, Doug Frost, recently quit his post in Britain to return to Australia for "personal reasons".

Thorpe was not ready to reveal the full picture of his comeback plans as he left for Abu Dhabi. At the airport in Sydney in a scene that doubtless hinted at the reason why Thorpe does not wish to remain home (that reporters flocked to the airport, that they covered the continuing story of a great sportsman is part of what keeps alive Ian Thorpe's earning power, explains why he is able to attract sponsors such as the one the flew him to the desert), the swimmer told the assembled ranks of media: "I'm really happy with how I've been performing over the last three weeks since I made the announcement. Things are progressing well and I've just really wanted to get on the plane and really be able to start. This kind of feels like this is the next part of it."

On coaching, he noted: "I have a coach. You can guess as much as you want. Look it's not a secret ... it will be public knowledge as soon as I start training. It's no big deal. At the moment, the people that I'm bringing in, I want to be able to train with them and pretty much be by myself and to be left alone during that training process. And until everything pans out as planned, I won't be letting you know. But it's exciting, I'm happy with who I'm training with."