Ian Thorpe: Swimming career of Australia’s ‘Thorpedo’ sunk by hospital bug
Five-time Olympic champion ‘will not swim again’
Sports News Correspondent
Tuesday 08 April 2014
Ian Thorpe, one of Australia’s sporting greats, is unlikely to swim again after undergoing an operation on his shoulder that has led to him contracting a “serious” infection.
A decade after Thorpe won the last of his five Olympic gold medals, he had hoped to return to the pool for the Rio 2016 games, despite failing to qualify two years ago for the London Olympics.
Although his management denied the swimmer was in intensive care, as reported in sections of the Australian media, he is being treated in a Sydney hospital and this latest setback appears to ruin any chance of a comeback.
It brings a low-key end to a sporting career in which Thorpe achieved acclaim and stardom while still a teenager. He struggled to deal with his sudden status, and battled depression and alcoholism.
Thorpe suffered a fall in January that necessitated several operations on his shoulder, the latest of which led to him picking up a “bug” during his time in hospital.
It was first claimed the severity of the infection meant he was being treated in intensive care and faced the possibility of losing the use of his left arm. His management later released a statement insisting Thorpe was in “good spirits” and anything else was “pure speculation”.
They added: “Following multiple operations after his fall in January, Ian has contracted two separate infections, both of which are being treated with antibiotics. He is not in ICU.”
However, while his manager, James Erskine, told the Australian Associated Press his situation was “not life-threatening”, he added: “From a competitive point of view – he will not be swimming competitively again, I don’t think.”
Thorpe became the poster boy for the Sydney Olympics of 2000. He won three golds and five medals in all, to make him the most decorated athlete at the Games.
The expectation on the 17-year-old’s broad shoulders going into a home Games was immense – he had been swimming for Australia since the age of 14 – but he coped admirably, each of his golds coming via a world record. The ‘Thorpedo’, with his size 17 feet, was a national hero.
Four years later in Athens, he collected another four Olympic medals, including two more golds, but life lived in the spotlight was beginning to take its toll.
He first retired aged just 24. In an autobiography published two years ago, he revealed a decade-long struggle with alcohol abuse and depression, which at times left him contemplating suicide.
He described his attempted return at London 2012 as a “fairytale turned nightmare”. He gave up on qualifying for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but had not entirely discarded the dream of making it to Rio.
Earlier this year, Thorpe was taken to hospital after behaving oddly in Sydney, the result, according to his management, of taking a mixture of anti-depressants and medication for his shoulder. He was treated for depression at a rehabilitation centre.
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Charlton sex tape: is the #sextratime Vine real or just another publicity stunt?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Ringside tickets set to cost up to £100,000 as Eddie Hearn warns fans could be priced out of fight
Brooklyn Beckham to be released: Why Arsenal could regret letting David Beckham's son depart
- 1 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 2 Scarlett Johansson new band 'already hit with legal complaint' from another The Singles
- 3 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 5 'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News after accusing Kay Burley of Islamaphobia
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...
£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...