Thorpe impressed by London 2012 Aquatics Center

Five-time Olympic swim champion Ian Thorpe believes that the

London 2012 Aquatics Center looks better in person than it did on

the drawing board.

The Australian visited London’s Olympic Park for the first time

Thursday, and said the nearly completed Aquatics Center was

arguably more impressive than the one where he won three gold

medals at the 2000 Sydney Games.

”To come around and see how complete everything is, it’s

exciting,” said Thorpe, who retired from competitive swimming in

2006. ”It’s very different seeing something in its presentation

mode when it looks really shiny and everything, and when you

actually go and see it, it doesn’t really come up in the same

way.

”But this is quite extraordinary, that it is replicated in the

same way when it is built as when it was presented.”

The 17,500-seat arena, with its distinctive sweeping roof, will

be scaled down to a 3,000-capacity venue after the 2012 Games. It

will contain two 50-meter pools with moveable floors, a diving pool

and a dry-land training area.

”This may be the first project that has a true legacy. …”

Thorpe said of the London Olympics. ”It is real. Not only will

this give back to Greater London and the whole area, hopefully it

will give back to the whole world.”

Thorpe said the determination of London organizers to ensure use

of all the facilities after the games and tie them to the city will

lend a distinctive character to the event.

”London’s good at this, being different. The mood of the world

is different now,” Thorpe said. ”It’s not going to be a big games

like Beijing, and that’s neither a good thing or a bad thing.”