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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 20:03 GMT 21:03 UK
Olympic countdown: 17 days
How the 17-year-old with size 17 feet made his mark

Ian Thorpe
Thorpe broke his own world record to win the 400m freestyle in Sydney
If there was one person who could empathise with the pressure of expectation felt by Cathy Freeman in Sydney it was 17-year-old Ian Thorpe.

The man with the size 17 feet showed he could handle it by winning the 400m freestyle in a world record time.

An hour later he anchored Australia in the 4x100m, coming from behind to beat American Gary Hall Jr, and added more gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

He complete his tally with silvers in the 200m freestyle and medley relay.

The Thorpedo's route to glory in 2000 had started when, aged 14, he was named in Australia's team for the Pan Pacific Championships in Japan, where he won two silver medals.

He became the youngest male world champion the following year, winning the 400m free and being part of the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Thorpe made himself at home in the pool that would be used for the Olympics by setting four world records at the Pan Pacific Championships in 1999.

And he won a record six gold medals at the 2001 World Championships.

He controversially decided to split with long-time coach Doug Frost in September 2002 and link up with Tracey Menzies.

And, after only managing four gold medals at the 2003 World Championships in Barcelona, nearly saw his dreams for Athens wrecked.

He was disqualified in the 400m trials when he fell off his blocks and was only granted the chance to defend his title when Craig Stevens made way.

Thorpe will be going for six gold medals in this year's Games having decided not to try and emulate Mark Spitz's feat of seven golds in 1972.

But he may be overshadowed by 19-year-old American Michael Phelps, who will be competing in 11 events and has been promised 550,000 if he matches Spitz's achievement.

Links to more Olympics 2004 stories


Ian Thorpe timeline
07 Jul 04  |  Swimming
Thorpe warns rival Phelps
06 Jul 04  |  Swimming
Thorpe drops record attempt
08 Mar 04  |  Other Sport
Thorpe suffers Olympic blow
27 Mar 04  |  Other Sport
Phelps eyes magnificent seven
05 Jul 04  |  Swimming

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