By Stephen J. Thomas
SYDNEY, Australia, 21 November. ONE of the greats of the world of swimming announced Monday that he has decided to end his professional career in the pool at the age of 24.
In a packed news conference, Ian Thorpe indicated that in recent times he had come to the realization that swimming was no longer his top priority and over the weekend he decided that pulling out of the National trials for the World Champs in two weeks was only stalling the decision that has been weighed heavily on his mind for most of this year.
Thorpe has always indicated that swimming to his maximum potential was always foremost in his motivation in the pool, therefore to compete anywhere below that standard to please public or sponsorship interests in the end did not fit comfortably with him.
He leaves the sport as Australia's most decorated Olympic athlete having won nine medals including five gold, three silver and a bronze. He also claimed 10 world titles and 13 world records in a career that started when he was selected for the Aussie Pan Pacs team as a 14-year-old in 1997. He remains the dominant player in both the 200 and 400 freestyle with nine of the top 10 times in history in his two signature events.
A market research company last week revealed in its annual survey that Thorpe was the most marketable sporting individual in Australia. That's in front of all the star players in our football codes folks. Yes, swimming really is a big deal in this land Down Under.
We wish him well in his life after swimming.