Sydney, Feb.4 (ANI): Experts have said that champion Olympian swimmer Ian Thorpe knows that his peak years are all but over, but he still hopes that his best is yet to come.
Thorpe's muscle fibres have atrophied, but his body size is ideal, claims Kevin Norton, a professor of exercise science at the University of South Australia.
"He may find he is not as outstanding as he was," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Norton, as saying.
Age is not on the 28-year-old's side. Sprint athletes in all sports tend to peak in performance between the ages of 22 and 26, because this is when the body's ability to generate power and speed is greatest, Norton said.
He added: " Our muscle fibres deteriorate from that point on, even if you train them."
This means the world probably never witnessed - and never will see - Thorpe at his physiological best, due to his early retirement.
"We don't know what his peak was," Norton said.
The swimmer's bones will also have thinned during his absence from competition.
Bone can be regrown, and atrophied, weakened muscles restored with training.
"But it's a painful process. It's tough on the body. You have to train at incredible intensities," Norton said.
Getting up every day to train at the required level will require exceptional mental strength.
Brian Nook, dean of the School of Chiropractic and Sports Science at Murdoch University, said the body's muscular and skeletal system loses flexibility and elasticity with age.
"He [Thorpe] is by no means old but it will make him a bit more susceptible to injury. He would have to be closely monitored and his training tailored to his physiological responses, Nook said.
However, he was confident Thorpe would overcome the challenges well.
Daryl Marchant, a sports psychologist at Victoria University, said Thorpe had always shown great motivation, and performed well under pressure. (ANI)