It took just 12 last-gasp laps in a roped-off section of the Caringbah Leisure Centre for Ian Thorpe’s arms and legs to confirm what his heart and lungs had been telling him for weeks – that he was too sick to compete in the Commonwealth Games.
“When he climbed out he was very, very distressed,” said his coach, Tracey Menzies, after she and a flotilla of fascinated public swimmers watched him battle chronic bronchitis and other unspecified illnesses in a final effort to prove his fitness.
Neither swimmer nor coach was in any doubt – it was no go.
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