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Tough for Hackett to make Rio: Thorpe

  • Tough for Hackett to make Rio: Thorpe

    Ian Thorpe says veteran Grant Hackett (pic) will find it tough to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

Ian Thorpe reckons fellow great Grant Hackett may fare better at 400m freestyle than his preferred 200m as he chases another slice of Australian Olympic history.

Personally aware how hard it is for even the best swimmers to make a top-level comeback, Thorpe will be willing Hackett on at next month's Olympic trials in Adelaide, where he's bidding to become Australia's oldest Olympic swimmer at age 36.

Dual 1500m freestyle Olympic champion Hackett has focused attention on the 200m event but is also contesting the 400m.

He will face a deep and hot field in the 200m including national record-holder Cameron McEvoy, Thomas Fraser-Holmes, David McKeon, Mack Horton and Dan Smith.

But does not necessarily have to be in the top four to land a relay spot - as he did in his comeback for last year's world championships, where he swam a heat for the gold medal team.

Five-time Olympic gold medallist Thorpe believes Hackett may actually finish higher in the opening night's 400m event where he also comes up against McKeon and Horton.

"It's tough," Thorpe told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.

"I've spoken to Grant a few times and I think he's really going to be focusing on the 200m. He wants a relay position and I can entirely understand that.

"But looking at some of the times he's done at training, I actually favour him in the longer event.

"I hope (he) gets a good hitout early on in the competition then gains selection in the 200m freestyle."

McEvoy, who claimed the 200m freestyle title at this month's Swimming NSW State Championships, also looms large in the 100m event.

Thorpe said he placed McEvoy narrowly ahead of former world champion James Magnussen in the 100m freestyle as Magnussen continues his return from shoulder surgery last year.

"That event doesn't allow for mistakes," Thorpe said.

"It needs and requires the best preparation possible."

Thorpe, who has taken on a mentoring role for Australia's elite swimmers, said the team had lifted their performance and professionalism after the years of turmoil and disunity surrounding the dysfunctional 2012 London Games campaign.

"I think that we really have come to a turning point in the sport where the results that we expect in Rio are actually going to be great for this team and a huge turnaround from London," he said.

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