Australia | Ian Thorpe | News | Sports | Swimming

Ian Thorpe Retires from Competitive Swimming

Thorpe_1Australia's most successful Olympic athlete, Ian Thorpe, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that he would quit competitive swimming:

"As of 2:53 on Sunday afternoon I decided I would not be swimming the world championships. I also made a very difficult decision that day that I am actually going to discontinue my professional swimming career. I'd been working towards this decision for quite some time. I'm a 24-year-old, and I'm only just 24 as well. I'm young enough to still see the new challenges and be able to accept them within my life. I'm also old enough now that I realise all of these accomplishments that have got me to this place in my life. I also know there is a lot of people out there that want me to keep swimming. I only hoped that I wanted to swim half as much as other people want me to."

The announcement came of something as a surprise, as "Thorpedo" had previously said he wouldn't be retiring until 2008, after the Beijing Olympics.

However, Thorpe has not competed in a major event since the Athens Olympics. His return to the pool after the Olympics was hampered by a glandular fever that kept him down for months. He recently spent a long sojourn in Los Angeles, where he moved to escape media scrutiny, but found that difficult as well.

Thorpedo3_2_2Added Thorpe: "One other thing happened in LA, as I got physically fit, my mind also got fit, I started asking a lot of questions. And I started to look at myself as a person. That begged another question: What would my life be without swimming? It's been a security net for me. But what it's meant is I haven't balanced out my life the way I should. So I realised I had to prove other things and let swimming take a back seat at this stage. I'm looking at a next phase, and that next phase means I am realigning the most important thing for me to do. Swimming falls somewhere short, which is never the way it used to be."

He also said a return to competitive swimming was unlikely: "I won't rule it out, I never rule anything out, but it's not going to happen. It's emotional because I see my entire swimming career flash before my eyes. I've had a great career. It isn't the best time to be walking away from the sport but it's my time."

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  1. I hope he remains happy with this choice. It is his life to lead.

    A part of me wonders if this has something to do with his personal life and the urge to live it. I bet LA gave him a taste of life outside his comfort zone while also allowing him to stretch himself.

    Posted by: Rob (lrdarystar) | Nov 20, 2006 10:12:11 PM

  2. He has certainly achieved more in his 24 years than most do in a lifetime. Lots of luck!

    Posted by: Barton | Nov 20, 2006 11:46:25 PM

  3. Ian brought something to swimming that it has been missing, a bit of style, a bit of showmanship and a whole lot of speed. He will be missed by all. Swimming needs him more than he needs swimming.

    Posted by: Joel / the17thman | Nov 21, 2006 1:44:45 AM

  4. Well at least now he can have some free time to come to the conclusion that he is in fact gay!

    Posted by: steve | Nov 21, 2006 6:12:19 AM

  5. I still want to be his speedos.

    Posted by: Will | Nov 21, 2006 7:10:05 AM

  6. Achieved? I think achievement depends on who values your 'achievements', in some alternate (heheh) universe people who eat the most hot dogs are considered champions but yea, I don't necessarily think he's achieved more than most. He's a swimmer; not a noble peace prize winner (which I value more). Also, I don't think he's hot, he has a sleazy look complimented with an alien is wearing his skin vibe in the sunglasses photo. Don't care if he's gay; it's not much of a loss or a win either way. LA claims another soul?

    Posted by: Scott A | Nov 21, 2006 7:45:43 AM

  7. I heard on a news break about two hours ago that he was talked out of swimming by someone he "couldn't name". His words, fairly exactly. As soon as I heard that I thought of Towleroad. Let the speculations begin.

    Posted by: Sayke | Nov 21, 2006 8:27:43 AM

  8. Reporting that from here in Australia, I forgot to say. It's just about the top news story here at the moment.

    Posted by: Sayke | Nov 21, 2006 8:30:40 AM

  9. Scott A, Who but you cares what you value? By your own standard, have you been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? (You did not even spell it correctly.) You sound like the bitterest of old queens. Spare us your opinion of who is "hot". Taste in men, as in all things, differs. Your opinion is more a reflection of your personal lack of taste than an evaluation of the achievements or physical beauty of Ian Thorpe. He is a world class athlete. You appear to be a world class dolt.

    Posted by: rudy | Nov 21, 2006 8:36:45 AM

  10. I'm not surprised that he's burnt out...he's probably been swimming since he was an early teen...trying to keep in shape, and maintain a work out ethic for an extended period of time, at that caliber of swimming, is extremely hard...I'm sure that he had other allurements tugging at him, to draw him away from competition...if you're not completely focused on your goal (in his case -- 2008 Olympics), you simply won't achieve it...I've trained with Olympians in the past, and the intensity with which they work out is unbelievable...they are truly, a breed apart.

    Posted by: Cliff | Nov 21, 2006 9:11:07 AM

  11. Well said Rudy and Cliff. Even for those who train at the lower level. I have coached dozens of marathon runners and the one that impressed me the most was a 60+ year old man who weighing 300lbs had a heart attack. He lost 100lbs and started to train with me. His finishing was a great achievment, even more impressive then the 12 I ran. So lighten up Scott, we all have to have goals in life and getting there is an achievment.

    I have always been impressed by the grace of some in the constant glare of the spot light. Thorpe has shown that kind of style, especially with his handling of the gay questions. Good luck to him.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Nov 21, 2006 9:23:31 AM

  12. Maybe with his time off, while he's on this adventure of learning, he can learn the difference between "asking a question" and "begging the question." They're not synonyms.

    Posted by: Mike B. | Nov 21, 2006 9:59:04 AM

  13. I'd hit it any day.

    I hope he does well in retirement. 5 Olympic crowns and 11 World crowns are nothing to sneer at.

    And I'll take him any day over Michael Phelps.

    Posted by: Alex Sarmiento | Nov 21, 2006 10:13:46 AM

  14. Scott A.-

    You are a truly tragic figure. To decide who/what is and isn't important in this world is to miss the very point of my post. It's about being your personal best. Achieving something for yourself and having others recognize your hard work.

    Would love to know what you've done in this world that puts you in such a position of judgement? Such a shame when nasty people spit out their nasty (and angry) words.

    One word: Therapy.

    Posted by: Brad | Nov 21, 2006 10:22:18 AM

  15. Forget therapy. Some people just need a good thumpin'.

    Posted by: rudy | Nov 21, 2006 11:01:44 AM

  16. We was talked into quitting by someone he "can't name?"

    Do I sense Reichen behind this? Will his next book be on the trials of gay athletes???

    Speaking of, can we can an update on the sales of the first book?

    Posted by: Dan B | Nov 21, 2006 11:34:18 AM

  17. Australian news services report that the "mystery person" is Diedre Anderson, a sports psychologist.

    Posted by: JT | Nov 21, 2006 1:51:39 PM

  18. Perhaps he just wants out at the top of his game.


    Posted by: James | Nov 21, 2006 3:53:30 PM

  19. too bad. We'll never get to see him in speedo again, i'll miss his amazing body

    Posted by: Caelus | Nov 21, 2006 4:31:58 PM

  20. At least he will have more time now to come to terms with his sexuality.

    Posted by: Guy | Nov 22, 2006 3:29:46 AM

  21. Bitter queen? I guess I do sound kind of queeny heheh... but it's good that you can spot royalty. Oh, Rudy, thanks for catching my spelling mistake of Nobel Peace Prize, I'm glad there are folks out there who can wipe my ass for me and take time to point out speeling (sp?) mistakes as well.

    However, I admit it, I did make a mistake in judging swimming as not important er... not important enough. An achievement is an achievement, as long as it does no evil, is that fair to say? And, I'm sorry I hurt all of you pro-Thorpe fans feelings. No one should sit idle while a nasty bitter queen makes fun of their heroes. After all just as it was said before: values, importance...everything is relative to the individual, and if you can find something in common then that's good too.

    Posted by: Scott A | Nov 23, 2006 11:23:26 AM

  22. Scott A, Not only are you bitter but also stupid. Not a good combo. You baby never rose to a level above scullery maid. Your pathetic attempt at "humor" is juvenile. Obviously you have never achieved anything anyone else would value. And never will.

    Posted by: rudy | Nov 27, 2006 7:39:03 AM

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