New Delhi : Swimming legend Ian Thorpe predicted that his country of birth, Australia, will finish second behind the United States with a haul of four to six gold medals in the pool at the upcoming Rio Olympic Games. “I think in these Olympics we will probably be around fifth (in overall medal tally). In swimming we will be behind the Americans, but will win between 4 and 6 gold medals,” said Thorpe during a media interaction here. The winner of nine Olympic medals and 11 World Championship titles is to be part of the expert panel who will do the commentary for Star Sports network during the August 5-21 Games.
‘Thorpedo’, as he was nicknamed when he ruled the pool in the World Championships and the Olympic Games, hailed modern technology that has enabled drug cheats in past Games to be caught recently, but said it was wrong to paint all with the same doping brush. “I believe it’s the minority (who cheat). If you come up with tests after preserving our samples and (armed with) a new technology, it’s great thing. It’s like when DNA testing came in. But it’s too easy to say that everyone is on drugs and isn’t it great we caught these people. This perception needs to change in all of this debate.”
The 33-year-old Aussie dominated the pool in the Sydney Games while American great Michael Phelps completely ruled swimming in the subsequent two Olympics in Athens and Beijing, and the Australian ace saw something similar happening not in men’s but women’s swimming at Rio. “I think it will come more in the women’s side. There are two great American swimmers Katie Ledecky, who is swimming remarkably, and so is Missy Franklin. These would be the two from the US who would be dominant.
“We have some great swimmers in Australia. In the 100m freestyle we have no. 1 ranked men’s swimmer (Cameron McEvoy) and we have women’s no. 1 and 2 (Bronte and Kate Campbell) and they are both sisters. “This will be an interesting story that plays out at the Olympic Games. Australia will have a resurgence here from the swim team,” said Thorpe. “My advise is everyone else is nervous, including the Olympic champion. Feel that the weight of nation is behind you and spurring you on rather than weighing you down,” he said when asked what tips will he give to an Olympic debutant.