Tuesday , September 29 2020
Breaking News
Home / Sport / From the archives: That was Thorpe’s first real big feat

From the archives: That was Thorpe’s first real big feat

Some thought it inevitable. A fait accompli. An absolute good thing. Most people certainly expected nothing less.

Still it had to be physically done, and in swimming these days, nobody does it better than Ian Thorpe.

Last night the 17-year-old with the size-17 feet, who has carried the weight of an expectant nation into these Games, did exactly what everyone hoped and thought he would, as he claimed Australia’s first gold medal of the 2000 Olympics with a stunning world-record performance in the 400-metres freestyle final.

Earlier in the day there was a near miss in the triathlon, and the shooters couldn’t quite hit the spot, but Thorpe the ever reliable kid last night delivered his golden gift to a craving public.

As he hit the wall in a time of 3min40.59sec, 0.74sec inside his own world mark he spun around, looked at the scoreboard, and with a mixture of jubilation and relief he lifted both fists and pumped them in delight.

As he climbed from the pool, another salute to an adoring, chanting crowd, this time both arms extended. Yes, it was over. He was now an Olympic champion. The one empty space in his bulging trophy cabinet which now takes up two complete rooms of his parents’ home will now be filled. The teenager has won a world championship gold medal, several Commonwealth Games gold medallions, and owns a swag of golds from world shortcourse meetings, but an Olympic medal was the missing link.

But that was something which took the Olympic rookie just two swims to rectify.

Advertisement

“It really is a dream come true for me,” Thorpe said. “I’m on such a high. I don’t know what I think about it all. I could think a lot of things. It was pretty amazing.

Ian Thorpe had already just about done it all before he headed to the Sydney Games aged just 17.

Ian Thorpe had already just about done it all before he headed to the Sydney Games aged just 17.Credit:Craig Golding

“I felt sort of confused [before the race]. It didn’t feel like the Olympics. But as soon as I walked out I realised how big this was.

“It was just amazing walking out in front of the home crowd. The emotion really hit me. Having the opportunity to race in front of them, I’m just so fortunate I was able to swim that well.

“When you think about this preparation, it was the most difficult one I’ve ever had. I smashed my ankle in half, I went through the whole drugs controversy, I had to put up with the swimsuit disaster, so to be able to come through all that really reassures me in my training and everything I do.”

Italian Massi Rosolino produced a stunning performance to snare silver, posting a 3:43.40, the fourth-fastest time in history. Thorpe owns the other three.

Rosolino had stuck about a body length behind Thorpe through the first 300m, but just when some may have thought the Italian was a serious gold medal challenger, Thorpe began to pump those legs, and off he went.

Advertisement

American Klete Keller collected the bronze with a 3:47.00 effort.

Australia’s other finalist, Grant Hackett, was in medal contention throughout the early part of the race, but weakened to finish seventh in 3:48.22.

Thorpe, who would probably break a world record in a bathtub, has made a habit of outdoing himself each time he dives into the pool, and in the preliminaries yesterday he even gave those spectators with the “cheaper” heat tickets plenty to cheer.

Loading

It may have been just a casual heat swim, his first at an Olympic Games, but Thorpe not bothering to don his full bodysuit cruised through eight laps of the pool in a time which would have won every Olympic 400m final in history.

His 3:44.65 shaved 0.35 off the Olympic record set by the Unified Team’s Evgeny Sadovyi in beating a 19-year-old Kieren Perkins at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

That Olympic record would stand just over eight hours before Thorpe decided to do what he has done to every other record in his events: utterly demolish it.

Advertisement

That task now achieved, it is onto the 200m freestyle today, and if things go as they usually do with Thorpe, another of his world records could get lowered this evening in the semi-finals.

Sport newsletter

Sports news, results and expert commentary delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up to the Herald‘s weekday newsletter here and The Age‘s weekly newsletter here.

Most Viewed in Sport

Loading

About admin

Check Also

Bulldogs on brink of civil war as coup to remove board trio begins

Anderson, Ballesty and Dunn will have 21 days to respond to the letter and organise …