Melbourne: American swimming phenomenon Michael Phelps will not win seven gold medals at next year’s Olympic Games in Athens, Australian superstar Ian Thorpe said on Tuesday.
Thorpe, who rivals 18-year-old Phelps as the world’s leading swimmer, said emulating American Mark Spitz’s record Olympic haul in 1972 could not be done.
After Phelps’ haul of four gold medals and five world records at the Barcelona world championships last July, Phelps has raised speculation about his chances of winning seven gold medals in Athens.
Phelps has a clause in his new contract with sponsor Speedo outlining an incentive of $ 1 million if he repeats Spitz’s Munich Games heroics in either Athens or at the Beijing Games in 2008.
But Thorpe, whose best effort at a major championship is six gold medals and a silver at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, said no-one could win seven gold medals at one Olympics. “I see it being something that’s unattainable and I’ve always said that,” Thorpe said. “I think it’s unattainable for me and unattainable for anyone.
“I’m sure it (pre-Games talk of seven gold medals) will start again. The more and more I tell you I’m not interested in seven gold medals, it seems like no-one’s prepared to believe me. But honestly, I’m not interested in seven gold medals.”
Spitz won the 100m and 200m freestyle, 100m and 200m butterfly and was part of the winning US 4x100m, 4x200m and medley relay teams in Munich.
His seven gold medals were won in the space of eight days, all in a world record time.
He remains the only athlete to have won seven gold medals at one Games. Phelps, who will succeed Thorpe this week as world body Fina’s swimmer of the year, is likely to contest seven events in Athens. But he will not publicly declare his intended programme until the US Olympic selection trials next July. (AFP)