Swimming great Ian Thorpe failed to qualify for Singapore's World Cup short-course 100m butterfly final Saturday as his bid for a grand comeback from a five-year retirement ended in calamity.
The five-time Olympic champion, who disappointingly finished second-last in the 100m individual medley on Friday, was third in his butterfly heat in 54.09 seconds but 11th overall, denying him his only remaining chance of a medal.
The result will be a bitter blow to Thorpe and his legion of fans who are hoping the 29-year-old can earn a place at next year's London Olympics and a match-up with American superstar Michael Phelps.
The tall Australian preferred not to speak to media immediately after the race. On Friday, he insisted he was "not embarrassed" by his swim in the unaccustomed 100m individual medley.
Thorpe, who has been training in Switzerland under star coach Gennadi Touretski, has chosen not to unveil the updated version of the famous freestyle which put him on top of the sport in the early 2000s.
He also plans to swim World Cup short-course events in Beijing and Tokyo as he builds towards the all-important Australian Olympic trials in March.
"It's more of an important milestone for me at my first competition that I started off here," he said on Friday.
"It hasn't been too bad and I'm not embarrassed yet. I'm still smiling but test me in Japan, I may not be then. But it's good to just get back into the field."
Thorpe last swam competitively at the 2006 Australian championships, where he won the 100m freestyle, before quitting the sport that year aged just 24, citing a lack of motivation.
He collected five Olympic gold medals in 2000 and 2004 along with 11 world titles in a glittering career which was the inspiration for Phelps, who has 14 Olympic titles.