Michael Phelps hopes to race against Ian Thorpe at 2012 Olympics

Michael Phelps is looking forward to racing Ian Thorpe at the London 2012 Olympics

Michael Phelps has broken his silence about Ian Thorpe’s dramatic return to competitive swimming, saying he is excited about racing him at the London 2012 Olympics.

Thorpe beat Phelps and Dutch legend Pieter van den Hoogenband in the 200m final at the Athens Olympics in 2004 and Phelps is looking forward to trying to reverse that result, the Sun-Herald reports.

”Ian’s one of the all-time greats in swimming; it’s definitely good to have someone like him back in the sport,” Phelps said.

”I think his return will bring more attention to swimming and should help to continue to grow the sport.

”Hopefully we’ll get the chance to race each other.”

Phelps is currently considered the greatest swimmer of all time, having won a total of 16 Olympic medals — 14 of them gold. Thorpe has won nine medals including five gold.

The swimmers have great respect for each other as athletes, with Phelps admitting in his book that he admired Thorpe as a teenager and tried to model his public persona on that of Thorpe.

In order to beat Phelps, Thorpe will have to better his best times. Phelps’s personal best in the 200m freestyle is 1.42.96, while Thorpe’s best effort from a decade ago is 1.44.06.

I think it’s a tall ask, considering Thorpe has been out of the pool for so long but there’s no doubting the Australian’s natural talent. Surely, though, to come back to competitive swimming after a four year break it’s not going to be possible for Thorpe to get close to Phelps. I hope I’m proved wrong!