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Ian Thorpe

Xxvii Olympiad

Thorpe in 2000, at age seventeen, became the youngest male ever to swim with the Australian Olympic team. At the Sydney Olympics that year, he was entered tentatively in six out of seven allowable events. Still growing and already 6-feet-4-inches tall by then, Thorpe weighed 200 pounds with an estimated body fat level of 7 percent, or 8 percent lower than the average male in his age group. In anticipation of Thorpe's Olympic performance, Dan Williams noted and reported in Time that Thorpe seemed to, "Move water like the moon.… [With] cartoon elasticity … [and] the longest stroke in swimming, … strangely beautiful and, to the competition, lethal."

In the 400-meter freestyle race that year, Thorpe broke his own world record for the second time in his career, finishing with a time of 3:40:59. He won gold medals with his team in the 4×100 and 4×200-meter freestyle relays. The 4×100-meter event, witnessed by a capacity crowd of 17,500 spectators, was an historic first-time win for the Australian team and marked the first Olympic loss ever for the United States in that event. Leigh Montville said of that race in Sports Illustrated, "Maybe the best [race] in history." He called Thorpe, "A jolt of high-voltage electricity that went through his sport and his country," and compared the teenager at once to Tom Sawyer and Ricky Martin. Swimmer Gary Hall Jr. of the losing U.S. team was quoted widely when he said, "I doff my swimming cap to Ian Thorpe!" Talbot meanwhile predicted that Thorpe might be the swimmer of the century.

In the only second-place finish of his Olympic experience that summer, Thorpe finished .48 seconds behind 22-year-old Pieter van don Hoogenband of the Netherlands in the 200-meter freestyle. At the final celebration, Thorpe was selected by his team to carry the Australian national flag into the Olympic closing ceremonies.

With his first Olympic competition behind him, Thorpe went on tour. Among the highlights of his travels he made a guest appearance at designer Giorgio Armani's runway show during a visit to New York and appeared on the Jay Leno Show. Thorpe went also to Washington D.C., where he met with then U.S. President Bill Clinton and the first family.

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Famous Sports StarsSwimmingIan Thorpe - Got His Feet Wet, International Competition, Chronology, Related Biography: Coach Doug Frost, Xxvii Olympiad - CONTACT INFORMATION