Written by Kendall Connors
When you’re an international superstar – winning five Olympic gold medals, three silver medals, breaking 22 world records, winning 11 World Championship titles and landing lucrative endorsements – all by the ripe-young age of 24 – it’s safe to say you’re far more than an athlete, you’re a legend.
Ian Thorpe, aka The Thorpedo, is arguably one of the best swimmers to ever grace the sport and one of Australia’s most beloved icons. Throughout his career, Thorpe made unbelievable achievements, never seen in the sport before. During his first experience competing in the Olympics he won three gold medals and two silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Games, and two gold, one silver and one bronze at the 2004 Athens Games – and in doing so, has become Australia’s greatest Olympian ever.
Not only was Thorpe a star in the water, but his amazing achievements and charismatic personality caused a splash outside the pool as well. He has hosted and appeared on numerous non-sport related TV shows, been the promotional face of international events and in 2002 was even voted by the Foreign Press as the best representative of Australian culture, attitude and ideals.
Despite his amazing talent in the pool and international acclaim, in November 2006, Thorpe announced he was retiring. Thorpe, announcing to a news conference in Sydney, said that swimming was not the most important thing in his life anymore and lacked the passion he once felt for the sport.
“Swimming is not a sport you can do well if you don't love it. We train too hard. We do too many hours to not love this,” Thorpe has said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Then, five years later, Thorpe had a change of heart. After visiting the venue for the 2012 London Games, he announced in February of this year that he would be returning to the sport, with his eye on getting a bid to the 2012 Olympics.
"It hasn't been something I've taken lightly, I made the decision last September," he told BBC. "I went to see the swimming venue for the London Olympics and it's an extraordinary venue and I could taste it, which is something I haven't felt for a very, very long time.”
Rekindling the passion and love he once felt for the sport, the Thorpedo is full speed ahead. Training harder than ever, Thorpe is in his best shape to date and ready to dive back into the competitive world of swimming.
“When you've had time away from something you get to re-explore being involved in a sport again. You seem to forget all the things you didn't like about it and you rediscover the things you love about your sport,” Thorpe told the Sydney Morning Herald. “And I think that's probably the best thing I got out of this. Sometimes I even think I'm pretty good at this.''
Fan or not – it seems that everyone is excited about this phenomenal comeback and eager to see the Thorpedo back in action. This history-in-the-making comeback has also caught the attention of some very prominent companies, such as Virgin Blue Group of Airlines, who will be endorsing and supporting Ian throughout his comeback.
“When I initially spoke with Virgin Blue about the prospect of competing again at the Olympics, I wasn’t completely sure that I would be able to do it, but they were happy to back me. In fact, I told them it was a 50/50 chance and they wanted to support me regardless,” Thorpe has said.
Virgin Blue is another esteemed company to add to Thorpe’s long list of sponsors, which includes Audi, Adidas, Westpac, Yakult and V Australia, just to name a few. With highly-lucrative endorsements, an extensive fan base and countless achievements in swimming, Ian Thorpe has built a worldwide name and brand for himself – and I think it’s fairly safe to say that many are excited to see how Thorpe will fare in the months to come.