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Thorpedo continues to hog media limelight ahead of World Cup finale

Swimming World Cup

Australian superstar Ian Thorpe gained the lion’s share of attention at today’s media conference ahead of the seventh and final FINA/Arena Swimming World Cup 2011 meet at the Tokyo Tatsumi International Swimming Centre this weekend. The hunger for Thorpe quotes dominated proceedings as the large international media contingent fronted six stars who were given a chance to speak. But it was Thorpe’s resurrection as a swimmer that had people clambering for the microphone.

“I never thought I would swim again, I would ever compete again. I spent five years away from the pool and I guess five years not being a swimmer. Just by chance, one day, I thought about swimming and I had thought about doing it previously but this was the first time I thought of the reasons why I would like to do this and those reasons may also be why I don’t want to do this. I decided to have another shot at it."

“This is my first serious competition since quitting swimming and I am glad we are in this part of the world. I think the Japanese event will be very exciting and it will be a stepping stone for me in my preparation for the Olympic Games.”

What was your major motivation for coming back, one intoned: “The biggest motivation was really the unknown of what I was trying, not knowing whether or not I still had my natural ability or whether or not I would still be able to train as I used to or mentally if I was strong enough to do this. I think this was the biggest motivation. It wasn’t around any other factor about trying to return to a certain level or to get back to being the No 1 in the world. These things didn’t motivate me as much as the challenge I had for myself to get back into a position where I was a swimmer again, so I think that was the biggest motivator.”

Alshammar (SWE), Thorpe (AUS) and Japanese Kitajima, Horihata, Matsuda and Terakawa at Tokyo press conference

On his target for London: “It’s difficult. I’m preparing as best as I can for the Olympic Games, but I don’t have very much time and this is going to be the most difficult thing to overcome. I’m happy with how I have prepared and how I’m training and the events I want to swim at the Olympics will be the relay berths — the 100m and 200m freestyle."

Other swimmers managed to get their say on World Cup proceedings and the imminent Olympic Games.

Therese Alshammar (SWE): “I am very happy to come back here and I am extra happy to have the final races here. I’ve prepared to the best of my abilities and trained very hard and well and I am racing very much and the World Cup is part of my preparation (for 2012 London Olympic Games). So far I am very happy.”

Kosuke Kitajima (JPN), silver medallist in 200m breaststroke in Shanghai: “This year I am very happy as Ian (Thorpe) is the same age as me and I am looking forward to compete with him again.”

Aya Terakawa (JPN), 50m backstroke silver medallist in Shanghai: “Looking back at this summer I have good memories and bad memories but after this summer I started preparing for the London Olympics and I have been participating in this event while doing a camp, so I’ve raced myself up now and this has been an opportunity for me to test what kind of record I can gain and how I can swim and I would like to take this opportunity to confirm my condition. I would like to try my best.”

Takeshi Matsuda (JPN), Shanghai 200m butterfly silver medallist: “I have been able to arrange myself and adapt myself. This is an opportunity to put into action what I have learnt.”

Yuya Horihata (JPN), Shanghai 400m IM bronze medallist: “I still have work to do but for the Olympic trial next year to do the best I can and I am stimulated by so many great athletes in the World Cup so I would like to swim as a medallist and do a good race.”