The 44th Legend of Australian Sport, Ian Thorpe AM

Posted on November 22, 2021 by

Ian Thorpe AM is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. The two-time Olympian was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2008 as an Athlete Member and has now been elevated to Legend of Australian Sport in 2021 for his contribution to swimming.

The five-time Olympic Games gold medallist, the most won by any male Australian, was an NSWIS Scholarship holder from 1997 until 2007 and now sits as a member of the NSWIS Most Outstanding – an honour that represents the outstanding achievement and unique personal contribution by an NSWIS athlete to their sport.

In 2001, Ian became the first person to have won six gold medals in one World Championships. Winning eleven World Championship golds, Ian holds the highest number of any swimmer of his time.

Named World Swimmer of the Year four times by Swimming World magazine, Ian was also honoured as the Australian Swimmer of the Year from 1999 to 2003. At the age of just 14, he became the youngest male to represent Australia, and his victory in the 400m freestyle a few months later at the 1998 Perth World Championships made him the youngest individual male World Champion.

After that victory, the swimming prodigy dominated the 400m freestyle, winning the event at every Olympic, World, Commonwealth and Pan Pacific Swimming Championships until the 2004 Olympics.

Aside from 13 individual long-course world records, Ian anchored five Australian relay teams in world record performances including a spectacular performance in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. His wins in the 200m and 400m and his bronze in the 100m freestyle in Athens have made him the first person to have won medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle.

In winning the 400m freestyle gold in Athens, the affectionately nicknamed ‘Thorpedo’ defended his Sydney 2000 result, winning one of the most memorable races for Australian Sport – the race dubbed “the race of the century” against Pieter van den Hoogenband (Netherlands) and Michael Phelps (USA) in the 200m freestyle.

His incredible five Olympic gold medals, nine Commonwealth golds, 13 world championships & 23 world records cement his place among Australia’s sporting greats.

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His elevation in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame comes at a fitting time just days out from the 2021 NSWIS Awards – an annual awards event that celebrates the accomplishments of NSWIS athletes, coaches and programs. Ian himself was a finalist for the NSWIS Athlete of the Year Award every year from 1998 until 2004, taking out the title in each of these years except for 2003.

The Legend now has an award named after him at the annual NSWIS Awards Dinner – the Ian Thorpe AM Outstanding Achievement Award – which recognises athletes that have overcome adversity and achieved excellence. 


Olympic Medals

5 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze

Years on NSWIS Scholarship

1997 – 2007

Ian Thorpe AM Achievements

  • 1998 and 1999: Male World Swimmer of the Year, Swimming World
  • 1998 to 2002: Male Athlete of the Year, NSWIS Awards
  • 1999 to 2003: Swimmer of the Year, Swimming Australia
  • 1999 to 2001, 2004: Sport Australia Male Athlete of the Year
  • 1999: World Trophy for Oceania
  • 1999: Don Award
  • 2000: Young Australian of the Year
  • 2001: Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM), for service to sport as a gold medallist at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
  • 2001 and 2002: Male World Swimmer of the Year, Swimming World
  • 2004: Male Athlete of the Year, NSWIS Awards
  • 2007: Inducted into the NSWIS Most Outstanding
  • 2011: International Swimming Hall of Fame inductee
  • 2019: Awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM), for significant service to youth and Indigenous education through charitable initiatives, and to swimming
  • 2021: Elevated to Legend, Sport Australia Hall of Fame

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