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Ian Thorpe
, 2002

by James Houston

type C photograph (sheet: 30.3 cm x 41.6 cm, image: 27.3 cm x 40.8 cm)

Ian Thorpe OAM (b. 1982), former swimmer, was selected at fourteen for the national team. Speedily earning the nickname ‘Thorpedo’, over the next ten years he set thirteen world records and won eleven world championship gold medals. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney he won three gold and two silver medals, and in Athens in 2004 he won two golds, a silver and a bronze, making him the country’s leading Olympic medallist. He was named World Swimmer of the Year four times between 1998 and 2002. Young Australian of the Year in 2000, Thorpe founded Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth to raise funds for ill and disadvantaged children. His retirement from swimming at the age of 24 prompted much discussion of whether or not he had been the world’s all-time greatest swimmer. Amongst his many popular and official awards is the Don Award of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, awarded to sportspersons who are ‘considered to have had the capacity to most inspire the nation’. For his support of Indigenous health and education, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Sydney in 2013.

James Houston, Sydney-born, took the first nude cover for Australian Vogue in 1997. In 1999 he shot the calendar for the Sydney Olympic Games. In 2000 he moved to the USA, where he is now a leading fashion, beauty and celebrity photographer.


Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2002
Accession number: 2002.64

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