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ON DISPLAY

Ian Thorpe
, 1998 (printed 2019)

by Brett Canet-Gibson

inkjet print (sheet: 111.0 cm x 80.5 cm, image: 110.0 cm x 73.0 cm, frame: depth 4.3 cm)

Ian Thorpe AM (b. 1982), retired swimmer, has won more Olympic gold medals than any other Australian athlete. He was first selected to represent Australia at age fourteen, following his wins in five events at the 1996 national age championships. His victory in the 400m freestyle at the 1998 world championships in Perth made him the youngest men’s world champion in swimming history. He won four gold medals at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, earning his first world record as a member of the 4 x 200 metres freestyle relay team. In 1999 he sliced two seconds off the existing 400m freestyle mark at the Pan Pacific Games in Sydney. He set a new world record for the 200m freestyle the following day, breaking his own records for both events again in qualifying for the Olympic team in May 2000. Thorpe’s first Olympic campaign, in Sydney, resulted in three gold and two silver medals as well as a further three world records, making him the most successful athlete of the 2000 Games. His haul for 2001 and 2002 included wins in six events at the world championships; six gold medals at the Manchester Commonwealth Games; and the 800m freestyle world record. In 2003, in again claiming the 400 metres freestyle world title, he became the first swimmer to win the same event at three consecutive world championships. At the 2004 Athens Olympics he took gold in the 400m and 200m – the latter dubbed swimming’s ‘race of the century’. World Swimmer of the Year in 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002, Thorpe was named Male Athlete of the Year at the Australian Sports Awards in 1999, 2001 and 2002; and in 2001 was named the International Amateur Athletic Association’s International Athlete of the Year.

Brett Canét Gibson took this photograph of the fifteen-year-old Ian Thorpe at the world championships in Perth in 1998, moments before the race from which he emerged the youngest world champion in swimming history.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2019
Accession number: 2019.2