Olympic Stories

Ian Thorpe - Swimming

Ian Thorpe - Swimming

Born on October 13, 1982 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, Ian Thorpe is a professional swimmer whose talents are unmatched in his country and much of the world. With the exception of a swimmer like Michael Phelps, Ian “The Thorpedo” Thorpe is consistently the most well-known and most successful swimmer on the world stage. He has a long history of competing in the Olympic Games and an entire wall’s worth of medals to show off when he finally retires.

Not even 30 years old yet, Thorpe still has plenty of time left to swim and plenty of medals left to win. However, after retiring and coming back, it’s hard to say if Thorpe will willingly swim for much longer. He will be representing Australia in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, but he won’t be competing head to head vs. Phelps in the 400m.

Sporting Career

After a very successful national debut, Ian Thorpe entered into international competition in 1997. However, just two months prior to the Pan Pacific Championships, Thorpe suffered from appendicitis and needed his appendix removed. He missed a lot of training time but still managed to help pull his relay team to a silver-medal-winning performance. Thorpe was the youngest athlete to ever win a medal at the Pan Pacific Games.

In the 1998 World Aquatics Championships, Ian would take home two gold medals, in the 400m freestyle and 4x200m relay respectively. He really stood out at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, winning an impressive four gold medals. In the next year’s World Championships, Thorpe not only won three more medals (two gold, one silver), but he would also shatter world records on his way to victory. And he was just getting started.

The 1999 Pan Pacific Championships were Ian’s from the start. He won another four gold medals, becoming the most successful swimmer in the world, and all eyes were on Thorpe as the 2000 Olympics in Sydney approached. Competing in his homeland, Ian was a huge favorite to win multiple gold medals. He didn’t disappoint. Although he won two silver medals, barely missing out on gold, he also took home three gold medals, in the 400m freestyle, and 100m and 200m relays respectively.

By the time the 2001 World Aquatics Championships rolled around, one word was used universally to describe Ian Thorpe’s domination: Ridiculous. It was ridiculous the amount of wins this young man was racking up, and instead of losing a step after so many competitions, Thorpe upped his game and took home six gold medals in this event. He would continue shocking the world moving forward, this time breaking the Commonwealth Games’ medal record by winning six gold medals (plus one silver) in 2002.

The next few years of Ian’s career were full of ups and downs. From changing trainers and attempting retirement to getting sick, injured and attempting a comeback, other names now trump Thorpe’s in swimming. But back on the right track, Thorpe will compete in this year’s Games in the 100m and 200m freestyle events.

Career Highlights

  • 1998 World Championships – Gold (2)
  • 1998 Commonwealth Games – Gold (4)
  • 1999 World Championships – Gold (2), Silver
  • 1999 Pan Pacific Championships – Gold (4)
  • 2000 Olympic Games – Gold (3), Silver (2)
  • 2001 World Championships – Gold (6)
  • 2002 Commonwealth Games – Gold (6), Silver
  • 2002 Pan Pacific Championships – Gold (5), Silver
  • 2003 World Championships – Gold (3), Silver, Bronze
  • 2004 Olympic Games – Gold (2), Silver, Bronze

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