SYDNEY, Sept. 12. CONFIRMING rumors that have circulated in Australia for week, superstar Ian Thorpe has left his longtime coach Doug Frost. Frost has been honored as Australia's "Coach of the Year" the last two years.
The "Thorpedo," 19, said today that he was leaving Frost to train with Tracey Menzies, a 29-year-old assistant coach for Frost.
In an admission that shook this nation of 20 million swimming fanatics, Thorpe said he might have retired from the sport if he had not changed coaches. "I decided I either had to make the change or walk away," he said. "While I was not enjoying myself as well as what I have in the past, the one thing that kept on looming over my head was that I might stop swimming."
Thorpe, who has set mind-boggling world records over 200, 400 and 800 meters freestyle, and dominated the 2000 Olympics, 2001 World Championships and 2002 Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacs, said there was no animosity between him and Frost, who has coached him for 12 years.
"He was quite surprised when I told him. It was a difficult thing to do," Thorpe said.
"He taught me everything. Whatever results I've had to this stage, Doug's made a larger contribution to those results than anyone else has.
"The relationship is still strong. I'll still be able to speak to Doug about what I'm doing. It wasn't like closing the door, it was like opening up a new door and keeping the old door open as well."
Thorpe said he made his mind up at the recent Commonwealth Games. Although he won a record six golds and broke his own world record in the 400m freestyle, he was unhappy with his performances.
Thorpe also confirmed reports that he plans to spend time training in Europe, adding that his decision to switch coaches had made him think about the 2008 Games in Beijing.
"After the next two years, I'll reassess," he said. "I'm quite determined to swim well in Athens."