Ian Thorpe Details Dealing With Fame at Young Age and Global Popularity On Inside With Brett Hawke Podcast

Ian Thorpe
Photo Courtesy: Bill Collins

Olympic champion and freestyle legend Ian Thorpe from Australia chatted with fellow former Australian national team swimmer Brett Hawke on his podcast about his career, starting with his life before the 2000 Sydney Olympics (2:52). Thorpe went over his first gold medal at the 1998 World Championships when he won the 400 freestyle over fellow Aussie Grant Hackett and how unprepared he was to enter superstar status.

Thorpe went over the difficulties of the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics when he was breaking world records left and right (5:00), as well breaking his ankle in late 1999. On top of that, he was accused of taking human growth hormone and it took a lot out of him. Thorpe also talked about the legendary 200 freestyle final in Sydney in 2000 when he lost to Pieter van den Hoogenband (11:00) and how that loss fueled him for the next four years to eventually win gold in Athens 2004 (36:00).

Ian Thorpe also famously anchored the 4×100 free relay team that won gold in 2000 over the Americans, but had split a suit right before the final (24:00) and had to rush to put on a wet suit that he wore earlier in the night for the 400 freestyle. It was a stressful situation but he was able to make it on the deck for the final and swim in a truly historic race.

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Ian Thorpe in Athens 2004. Photo Courtesy: David Gray

Thorpe detailed how the Aussies won their first Olympic gold medal in that relay, breaking the US streak in the event (27:30), and hearing that roar of the Australian crowd when he was on the block against US sprinter Gary Hall, Jr. Thorpe took on superstar status after 2000 and Hawke and Thorpe reminisced (32:30) on times when they were in Japan when he would meet fans at events.

Thorpe talked about the 2004 200 freestyle race when he raced van den Hoogenband and 19-year-old Michael Phelps (38:00) and how he truly believed he was going to win the race, as well as the 400 freestyle when he won his second gold in the event “for his country.”

After Athens, Thorpe took some time off (44:00), and was motivated to have more success, but had little to no privacy when he was at training. After some time to reflect, Thorpe retired from the sport of swimming in 2006.

Ian Thorpe was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2011 and ended his career  with nine Olympic medals. He is currently second all-time in the 400 freestyle in LCM and still has the Australian record in the 200 freestyle.

Thorpe actually commented on why he believes his 200 & 400 freestyle times still hold up to this day (52:38) believing that everyone swims the 200 freestyle incorrectly.

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