Ian Thorpe or ‘Thorpedo’ as he is affectionately known won five Olympic gold medals during his swimming career, the most won by any Australian and a record that cements his place in history as Australia’s greatest Olympian to date. In total, Thorpe won 11 World Championship titles, claimed 10 Commonwealth Games medals, broke 22 World Records and was the first person in history to win six gold medals in one World Championship.
The 35-year old’s remarkable career began when he won his first World Championship in the 400m freestyle at the 1998 World Swimming Championships in Perth at the age of 15. Thorpe continued to dominate middle-distance swimming, claiming the double at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and 1999 Pan Pacific Championships, sweeping a collective ten gold medals at the 2002 Pan Pacs in Yokohama and the Manchester Commonwealth Games and again, winning gold in the 200m and 4 x 200m relay at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona.
Thorpe’s most famous wins however, came at the Sydney 2000 Olympics where he won three gold medals and two silvers, making him the most successful athlete at the Games. The gold in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay in which the American’s lost for the first time at Olympic level will forever be remembered as one of the greatest victories in Australian sporting history and was a defining moment of the Games. Thorpe later went on to win another two gold medals at the 2004 Athens Olympics and shortly thereafter made the decision to retire from the pool.
Thorpe’s achievements both in and out of the pool have been recognised around the world. He was awarded the title of World Swimmer of the Year on four separate occasions, named Australian Swimmer of the Year from 1999 to 2003, and in 2000, his philanthropic efforts earned him further recognition as the Young Australian of the Year.
Thorpe is an activist, advocate and mentor. In 2012, he was awarded the Human Rights Medal and has also received honorary doctorates from Western Sydney University and Macquarie University. He is an ambassador for AIME, Australian Marriage Equality, the 2016 & 2018 Invictus Games, and is also Patron of the charity ReachOut, an online mental health resource. Today, Thorpe provides his expert commentary for Network 7 and fronts campaigns for his commercial partners. Thorpe has used his profile to campaign for change and is one of Australia’s most successful sporting hero’s, both in and out of the water.