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Ian Thorpe says he will not try to swim at 2016 Rio Olympics

Jul 27, 2013, 9:49 AM EDT

Ian Thorpe Getty Images

Ian Thorpe‘s Olympic career is over.

The nine-time Olympic medalist over 2000 and 2004 told the Telegraph in Australia he will continue swimming but won’t go after a third Games three years from now due to a shoulder injury.

“I don’t want to be the old man who can’t do things — to push out something that may not be realistic any more,” Thorpe said. “Although I am going to continue swimming, realistically I don’t think I will be able to get back to a position where I am at the top of the sport.”

Thorpe, 30, will still train “purely for the love of swimming,” according to the Telegraph.

“I kept on not being able to get through (training sessions), and then I decided I am just going to push through it, basically I have moved the positioning of my scapula that’s caused a tremendous amount of tension on the front of my shoulder,” Thorpe told the newspaper. “When I did it, I was advised, you have two options, one is surgery and the second is you have to rest. I have had surgery once before. It was just after I stopped swimming the first time, it took me around two years to recover and I have decided I am not having surgery again.”

Thorpe won three gold medals and two silvers at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and became the world’s greatest all-around swimmer before Michael Phelps matured between the Sydney and Athens Games.

In Athens, Thorpe won two golds, one silver and one bronze. He’s matched with fellow swimmer Leisel Jones as the most decorated Australian Olympian of all time.

Thorpe retired between the Athens and Beijing Olympics but announced a comeback in 2011 with an eye on the 2012 Olympics. Thorpe failed to make the Australian Olympic team for London but continued on.

“I am grateful I was able to return to my sport,” he told the Telegraph. “If not I would have spent my life wondering and probably not liking my sport so much. But in return I have been able to discover the beauty of what I do, but also how I feel when I swim. When I get it right, it’s like nothing on the planet.”

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