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Australian former swimmer Ian Thorpe

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Ian Thorpe
Ian Thorpe. Photo/Eurosport

Ian Thorpe Australian retired swimmer

  • He is an Australian retired swimmer
  • He specialized in freestyle, backstroke and individual medley
  • He was the most successful athlete at the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics

Who is Ian Thorpe?

Ian is a retired Australian swimmer who was born on October 13, 1982, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. He specialized in freestyle but also competed in backstroke and individual medley.

The swimmer was the most successful in that country’s history, accumulating five Olympic gold medals and 11 world championship titles in six years.

Personal Life

Thorpe was born in Sydney and grew up in the suburb of Milperra. He hails from a sporting family where his father Ken was a cricketer at junior level where he represented Sydney.

The father was also a talented batsman who once topped the season’s batting averages. However, he retired from cricket at 26 years due to family issues.

On the other hand, Thorpe’s mother was a netball player.

Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe. Photo/National Portrait Gallery

Thorpe was allergic to chlorine and that kept him off from swimming until a school carnival at seven years but eventually overcame it to being a captain of New South Wales for the Australian Primary Schools Championships.

His sister Christina is also a swimmer and they did this along under the tutelage of Doug Frost.    Christina was selected to represent the Australian team at the Pacific Swimming Championships in Atlanta.

Thorpe competed at the first Australian Age Championships winning bronze medals in the 200m and 400 m freestyle and won all ten events at the New South Wales Age Championships.


Ian began swimming professionally at eight years and although he never coordinated in other sports, he excelled in the pool.

At the Sydney Summer Olympics, on the very first day of the competition, he showed his ability to handle the pressure winning three gold medals and two silver medals.

Racing in the 400m freestyle, he won the gold medal by breaking his world record. An hour after the triumph, Thorpe swam in the 4x100m freestyle relay finishing in a thrill.

In the 200m freestyle, he earned a silver medal when he came after Pieter van den Hoogenband. In addition, he won a silver medal by swimming in a preliminary heat of the 4x100m medley relay.

At the Athens Olympics in 2004, the swimmer earned a gold medal in the 200m freestyle, a gold in the 400m freestyle, a silver in the 4x200m freestyle and a bronze in the 100m freestyle.

Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe. Photo/The Courier Mail

He also came sixth in the 4x100m freestyle relay, his victory in the 200m, the big race of the games ahead of his American competitor Pieter gave him revenge for his surprise defeat in, Infront of his home crowd in Sydney.

Thorpe returned to the New South Wales Championships and raced in the 2oom and announced his intention to retire after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. He wished to drop his pet event, the 400m with a desire to concentrate on the 100m freestyle.

Despite his coach Alan Thompson imploring him to carry on with the swimming event, the swimmer’s decision remained unmoved. In the Commonwealth   Games, he won the 100m and 200m freestyle respectively.

Soon after, Thorpe announced that he would withdraw from the Commonwealth Games to a bronchitis condition that stopped him from training and later diagnosed as a strain of glandular fever.

Thorpe moved to the United States and switched coaches on allegations that there was excessive ongoing media attention. His stay was surrounded by rumours that he was indisciplined, speculating about the downfall of his international career.

Thorpe returned to Australia and announced his retirement from the profession and thanked the public for always trusting him

Five years later, he came back and attempted to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012 his focus being on the 100m and 200m freestyle. He performed poorly and missed a chance to proceed to the London Olympics.

Thorpe’s success is attributed to his work ethic, mental strength, powerful kick, ability to accelerate and physiology suited to swimming. This made the former Australian head coach label him as the greatest swimmer the world has seen.

Thorpe will always be on record for being the greatest middle-distance swimmer of all time and also a relay swimmer.

Ian has some interesting facts

  • He started swimming to avoid boredom and it later became a profession
  • Ian was allergic to chlorine
  • He has very good taste when it comes to fashion
  • He is a philanthropist and an activist
  • He suffers from depression
  • Ian is gay

My passion is capturing the untold journey of global athletes from humble beginnings to superstars in their own right.

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