Ian Thorpe

Ian Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals, the greatest total of any Australian. Thorpe first grabbed world attention when he won the 1998 world 400m freestyle title in Perth, becoming, at 15, the youngest world champion in history. At the age of 12, he competed in 13 events at a state meet, and set under-age NSW records in all of them. Fully grown, he had a large frame, an arm span of 190cm and size 17 feet. As his first Olympics approached, in Sydney, he had broken 10 world records - four of them in four days at the 1999 Pan Pacific titles. On the first night of Olympic competition in Sydney he won the 400m freestyle, shaving his own world mark, then combined with Michael Klim, Chris Fydler and Ashley Callus to inflict the United States’ first defeat ever in the 4 x 100m freestyle relay, setting another world record. In the individual 200m freestyle, the Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband beat him into second place. Later Thorpe featured with Klim, Todd Pearson and Bill Kirby in another world-record relay victory winning the 4 x 200m.   

Between the Sydney and Athens 2004 Games, Thorpe split with his veteran coach Doug Frost and joined Tracey Menzies. He almost lost the chance to defend his 400m title when he toppled from his starting block in the Olympic trials - but survived and went on to win the Olympic final. He later won the 200m freestyle - billed as “the race of the century” - against Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and American Michael Phelps.

Harry Gordon, AOC historian

Olympic Results

Athens 2004 - Summer Olympic Games

100m Freestyle - Men
Heats 49.17 1st
Semifinals 49.21 3rd
Final 48.56 3rd  
Final Placing 3 / 71
200m Freestyle - Men
Heats 1:47.22 1st
Semifinals 1:46.65 1st
Final 1:44.71 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 59
400m Freestyle - Men
Heats 3:46.55 1st
Final 3:43.10 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 47
4 x 100m Freestyle Relay - Men
Final KLIM, M; PEARSON, T; SULLIVAN, E; THORPE, I 3:15.77 6th
Final Placing 6 / 16
4 x 200m Freestyle Relay - Men
Final HACKETT, G; KLIM, M; SPRENGER, N; THORPE, I 7:07.46 2nd  
Final Placing 2 / 16

Sydney 2000 - Summer Olympic Games

200m Freestyle - Men
Heat 1:46.56 1st
Semi Final 1:45.37 1st
Final 1:45.35 2nd  
Final Placing 2 / 53
400m Freestyle - Men
Heat 3:44.65 1st
Final 3:40.59 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 46
4 x 100m Freestyle Relay - Men
Heat FYDLER, C; PEARSON, T; PINE, A; CALLUS, A 3:17.37 1st
Final KLIM, M (WR: 48.18); FYDLER, C; CALLUS, A; THORPE, I 3:13.67 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 23
4 x 100m Medley Relay - Men
Heat WATSON, J; MITCHELL, R; PINE, A; THORPE, I 3:39.38 1st
Final WELSH, M; HARRISON, R; HUEGILL, G; KLIM, M 3:35.27 2nd  
Final Placing 2 / 24
4 x 200m Freestyle Relay - Men
Final THORPE, I; KLIM, M; PEARSON, T; KIRBY, W 7:07.05 1st
Heat HACKETT, G; KIRBY, W; PEARSON, T; KOWALSKI, D 7:14.27 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 16