AUSTRALIA is putting its older stagers back into battle in a bid to achieve Olympic glory and better TV ratings in London 2012.
Olympic officials have hired a team of surgeons to patch up shoulders, legs and other useful joints on an army of aging athletes.
An Olympic spokesman said the surgeons had been instructed to "do whatever it takes" to try to squeeze a few last medals out of the Olympic stars.
The spokesman said the "Dad's Army" of athletes would be racing over shorter distances and would be encouraged to avoid strenuous activity like the opening ceremony and standing up.
He denied the recycling of popular athletes was holding back the new generation of swimmers. The most high profile comeback is Ian Thorpedo who set records over a decade in middle distances and television commercials.
Thorpedo denied the comeback was driven by ego. "Frankly it was driven by boredom," he said. "I spent the first 20 years of my life swimming up and down the pool and thought there must be more to life. As it turned out, there wasn't."
The comeback swimmers have been buoyed by the Commonwealth Games success of butterfly champion Geoff Hugegill who overcame chronic hamburger addiction to make a triumphant return as a swimming star and weight-loss guru.
The athlete recycling has been hampered by the ban on full-length body suits which helped to hold aging bodies together and prevent joints popping out.
The comebacks struck controversy after it was revealed some older athletes were getting more government support than younger swimmers.
"What people need to realise," the Olympic spokesman said, "is that funding is based on a complex formula depending on whether they can attract any votes for the government."
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