On 13 October 1982, Ian Thorpe was borne in Milperra, Sydney. He is one of Australia’s most successful Olympians.
He started swimming at age five and was fourteen when he made the Australian squad for the 1997 Pan Pacific Games.
At the World Championships six months later, Thorpe was victorious in the final of the men’s 400 m freestyle, making him swimming’s youngest ever men’s world champion.
He won four gold medals at the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998.
Thorpe’s first Olympic campaign, in Sydney, resulted in three gold and two silver medals and three world records. His haul for 2001 and 2002 included wins in six events at the world championships; six gold medals at the Manchester Commonwealth Games; and another world record.
In claiming the 400 m freestyle world title in 2003, he became the first swimmer to win the same event at three consecutive world championships.
His two gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics came from victories in the 400 m and 200 m freestyle, the final of the latter event pitting him against American Michael Phelps in what some pundits dubbed swimming’s ‘race of the century’.
After retiring in 2006, he had a brief comeback to competitive swimming in 2012 and released his autobiography This Is Me.
Thorpe has been open about his mental health issues as an elite athlete and is chair of the Australian Institute of Sport’s Athlete Wellbeing Advisory Committee.
He has two honorary doctorates, an Order of Australia and the Human Rights Medal, acknowledging his advocacy in Indigenous education, marriage equality and mental health.