Spitz says Thorpe and Evans have lost their edge, predicts Phelps to win 5-6 gold medals

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After having tried and failed himself (mind you, after 17 years in retirement), Mark Spitz questions the ability of Janet Evans and Ian Thorpe to stage successful comebacks for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Via The Telegraph:

“The world moves on and it is quite difficult,” Spitz said at the Laureus World Sports awards conference in London.

“I don’t think as an athlete you ever forget how to train but what you really lose is how to race against your competitors.

“I knew how to compete against those I had been competing against for years. When I went to the pool I truly believed they were wondering who was going to get second as opposed to who was going to beat me.

“By leaving the sport, the door was open for everyone else to jockey up to the No1 gig and so when I re-entered the sport 17 years later I was not only yesterday’s news I was trying to find my own way back.

“Therein lies the handicap [for stars making a return to their sports], they have lost the edge on the new stars.”

In other news, Spitz says fellow American Michael Phelps will win five or six gold medals, concentrating on those where he can win gold, rather than most medals possible. Via 3news:

“I think he’s going to swim in three individual events for sure,” Spitz said at a pre-event to the 2012 Laureus World Sports Awards. “Probably both butterfly events; the 100 and 200 metres and I think the 200 metres freestyle. And then he’ll probably most likely qualify to swim on the three relays that the Americans have entered.

“I think he will win his individual events and think America is favourite in at least in the two of the three relays to win gold medals so maybe five, maybe six gold medals.

“He may swim a seventh or an eighth event. I don’t really believe that the programme will be that heavily with swimming as he has done in the past. He is going to be 27 years old and he’s already done that.

“He’s competed in two Olympic Games in the past where he’s competed in eight events and in each case he’s come away with eight medals in each of the events. In Athens it was six golds and two bronze. Obviously what he did in Beijing, eight gold medals.

“So I think he’s interested in his legacy; he’s made a declaration that this will be his last Olympics. He’s probably going to swim in things he can win as opposed to just swim in things and get medals in.”

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