By Mike Rowbottom in Abu Dhabi

Ian_Thorpe_looking_surprised_Sydney_February_2_2011February 20 - Dawn Fraser believes her fellow Australian Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe - who will make a comeback at the London 2012 Games - was premature in ending his career five years ago.

But the 73-year-old, who was the first swimmer to win Olympic golds at three successive Games, is convinced Thorpe, who will be 29 next year, has the talent and desire to challenge Michael Phelps, who won eight golds at the Beijing Games, in the freestyle events.

"Ian has certainly got the possibility of winning a medal at London 2012," Fraser told insidethegames while attending the Laureus World Sports Awards here.

"Whether it will be gold or not, who knows.

"He retired too early, even though he had had 10 years of competitive swimming because he started at the age of 14.

"But I can understand why he retired.

"I think he had had enough of all the pressure and the press attention he was getting.

"He had photographers outside his house taking pictures of him as he got out of the shower, that sort of thing.

"That's not nice.

"His personal life was being exploited in the press, and there was all kinds of speculation about whether he was gay or not – I don't think he is, not that it matters either way."

To read the full interview with Fraser click here.

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