Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe is in a Sydney hospital fighting a serious infection and “in good spirits,” his manager James Erskine said on Wednesday.
Erskine also refuted reports that Thorpe might lose the use of his left arm.
“That’s just people making that up, I mean that’s just nonsense,” Erskine told reporters.
The five-time Olympic champion contracted the infection after undergoing a series of surgeries on his shoulder at a hospital near his home in the Swiss town of Ronco Sopra Ascona earlier this year.
Thorpe holds 11 world championship gold medals. His Olympic debut was in 2000 in Sydney, where he took home three gold medals. He won another two at the Athens games in 2004. He announced his retirement in 2006 at the age of 24, but returned to swimming in 2011 in an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2012 London Games. Thorpe failed to qualify for London at the national trials that year.
“He’s under very good supervision and he’s battling and he’s unlucky,” Erskine said.
“…How long it’s going to take to clear up, I don’t know. He’s in good spirits, you know, he’s got drips in, he’s got antibiotics and all that sort of thing so he’s not exactly going to swim in the Commonwealth Games tomorrow,” Erskine continued.
Erskine said he did not know how long the 31-year-old swimmer would remain in the hospital, and that he was out of intensive care as of Tuesday.
“At the end of the day he’s fighting it, he’s got an infection and like any of these infections you get in hospitals, they have to take it seriously,” Erskine said.
Erskine said that he thought Thorpe’s swimming career was almost certainly over if only because of the impact of the surgery on his shoulder.
“He’s had two major operations on his shoulder … and he’s got plates in there, he looks like the bionic man,” Erskine said.
Erskine explained that the first operation Thorpe underwent before going to rehab did not work, so Thorpe returned to the hospital to have surgery again after rehab. It was during that time Thorpe contracted the infection.
The infection was treated and cleared up, but Thorpe “went back to rehab and the infection flared up again so now he’s back in hospital,” Erskine said.
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