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Ian Thorpe

Australia's Most Successful Olympian


Ian Thorpe postage stamp

Stamp of approval ... Australia Post honors Ian Thorpe

Courtesy Australia Post

  • On November 21, 2006, champion swimmer Ian Thorpe announced his retirement from professional swimming at the age of 24. Some four years later, in February 2011, he announced he had ended his retirement and was back to competitive swimming. Aiming for the London Olympics, Thorpe missed qualification for the Australian Olympic swimming team at the Olympic trials held in Adelaide in March 2012.

With his five gold medals — and a total of nine, including silver and bronze — in two Olympic Games, swimmer Ian Thorpe became Australia's most successful Olympian.

His record is unsurpassed.

The previous Australian gold medal record was four medals held at various times by Betty Cuthbert (1956 Melbourne and 1964 Tokyo Olympics), Murray Rose (Melbourne and Rome Olympics), Dawn Fraser (1956 Melbourne, 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympics), and Shane Gould (1972 Munich Olympics).

Ian Thorpe's nine Olympic medals is the highest number won by Australian Olympians.

Thorpe's swim in the 200m men's freestyle event at the Athens 2004 Olympics, where he was pitted against defending Olympic champion Peter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands, American swimming sensation Michael Phelps and Australia's own Grant Hackett (who swam second to Thorpe in the 400m freestyle), was the stuff of legend. The placings in a closely contested fight: Thorpe, first; van den Hoogenband, second; Phelps, third.

Ian Thorpe is said to be the only Olympian to win a medal in swimming's 400m, 200m and 100m freestyle events in the one Olympic Games.

Australia Post has issued commemorative postage stamps honoring his win in the 400m and 200m freestyle events.


Date of birth:
October 13, 1982

Place of birth:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Olympics swimming record

Athens 2004 Olympic Games:
Gold medal, men's 400m freestyle
Gold medal, men's 200m freestyle
Silver medal, men's 4x200m freestyle relay
Bronze medal, men's 100m freestyle

Sydney 2000 Olympic Games:
Gold medal, men's 400m freestyle
Gold medal, men's 4x100m freestyle
Gold medal, men's 4x200m freestyle
Silver medal, men's 200m freestyle
Silver medal, men's 4x100m medley relay*

    * Ian Thorpe's silver medal for the men's 4x100m medley relay was for swimming in a preliminary heat. He did not swim in the final, in which the Australian team placed second.

World records

Prior to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, Ian Thorpe had chalked up 18 world records in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle individual events and in the 4x100 and 4x200 freestyle relays.

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