SYDNEY: Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe was battling serious infections Wednesday in a Sydney hospital following shoulder surgery, his manager said, adding he would likely never swim competitively again.
James Erskine said Thorpe was unlucky to have fallen ill after shoulder surgery in Australia, but dismissed reports the 31-year-old, five-time Olympic gold medallist would lose the use of his left arm.
“That’s just conjecture by press. At the end of the day he’s got an infection and like all these things, they have to be treated seriously,” Erskine told the ABC, adding that Thorpe was not in intensive care.
Erskine said Thorpe had broken his shoulder in a fall in Australia some months ago and the swimmer known as the “thorpedo” would not be resuming his career in the pool.
“He smashed his shoulder. I don’t know exactly what parts of shoulder he broke, but all I can tell you is I have seen the X-rays and the plates and the pins that are in there—he looks like the bionic man,” Erskine told ABC television.
“He can hardly get out of bed to have a piddle. The answer is no, he’s not going to be back to competitive swimming.
“He’s not going to be in the Commonwealth Games and he’s not thinking about returning for the next Olympics.”
Thorpe retired in 2006 after a glittering career in which he ruled the pool from 1998 to 2004, taking nine Olympic medals and 11 world titles and setting 13 long course world records.
He returned to racing in 2011 in Singapore but had a string of disappointing results leading up to his ultimately unsuccessful London Olympic bid the following year.
After the London Games, in which he commentated for the BBC, Thorpe had not ruled out aiming for the Rio Games in 2016.