Coach Nugent defends Ian Thorpe’s funding

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Australian swimming head coach Leigh Nugent today defended the financial support given to comeback stars like Ian Thorpe after rumblings within the team about favoritism ahead of the Olympics. Via AFP

“I really can’t understand why they would (be upset),” Nugent told reporters ahead of crucial London Olympic selection trials in Adelaide this week.

“These guys are multiple gold medallists of recent times, multiple world record holders.

“They’re going to contribute, if they make it, to the performance of our team and maybe help some of the other members on the team with relay medals, bring experience to the team, stability to the team with that experience.

“So I can only see positives in this and I think it would be a pretty ungrateful person and a pretty ungrateful Australian to not assist our proven best performers.”

Nugent would not comment on the specifics of money spent on the comebacks.

“They haven’t been paid to swim, they have just been helped in their training situation,” he said.

The controversy was sparked on the weekend, with former and present swimming stars reportedly questioning the decision to throw money at the likes of Thorpe and Trickett.

“Why invest in athletes that are seemingly past their best and reinvest into them because of what they did five, six or seven years ago? The sport should be about moving forward and investing into the future, not going back to glory days,” Thorpe’s former teammate Ashley Callus told News Ltd.

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