The sight of Ian Thorpe pool-side at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games will be an inspiration for the Australian swimming team, Belinda Hocking says.
But Australia’s world No.1-ranked backstroker admitted Thorpe had also become a precautionary tale as she contemplated winding down her career.
Australian team members did not hide their support for Thorpe upon arrival for their week-long pre-Games camp in Manchester after the five-time Olympic gold medallist came out in a TV interview.
Hocking even hoped Thorpe would be able to find time away from his role as Ten Network swimming commentator and adopt a mentor role with the team in Scotland.
While excited by the prospect of dual-Olympic gold medallist Michael Klim arriving as official mentor this week, Hocking hoped the door was also kept open for Thorpe.
“It’s exciting to have him on the pool deck at Glasgow – I think it is a shame he hasn’t been able to do it earlier,” Hocking told AAP.
“I know he is doing some TV work but I don’t know if he is going to talk to the team.
“It would be really cool if he did.
Hocking – the 200m backstroke 2013 world titles silver medallist – said she knew first-hand the benefits of speaking to an idol.
“At 15 I spoke to (former Olympic gold medallist) Jodie Henry when I first arrived at the AIS,” she said.
“I asked her if she was ever nervous before a race and she said she absolutely crapped herself.
“I realised it was normal. I realised I could deal with it.
“So I think it would be great for him to have that mentor role.
“I would eat up every word that came out of his mouth.”
But Hocking admitted Thorpe’s post-career battle with depression and alcohol had put her own career in perspective as she contemplated her final Commonwealth Games campaign.
“Seeing him struggle makes me really want to organise a plan for post-swimming,” said Hocking, who is studying a PR university degree.
“I want to make sure I have a back-up.
“It’s important athletes realise there is life after swimming and that you have to start making money or move back in with mum and dad.”
However, Hocking joined in the team’s praise for Thorpe’s brave decision to come out, albeit in a TV interview reportedly worth more than $500,000.
“For me it’s not an issue,” Australian head coach Jacco Verhaeren told Fairfax.
“He’s still the same champion, still the same friend and still the great competitor I know.
“Hopefully it will be a solution for some of the problems he has had in the past.”