The reason I always looked forward to Olympics over the years was largely due to the interest in the Track and field events . In swimming to be honest I did not follow that much. But the record hauls and the legendary skills of American Mark Spitz and German Michael Gross forced me to do the re- think. And the result was that i was able to see history been created in the coming years. And swimmers like Ian Thorpe and Michael Phelps with their outstanding medal hauls have made me now a avid swimming watcher. And its been a real delight to see the magic unfurl on the pool by these great swimmers.
Hence the autobiography by Ian Thorpe – This is Me became a must read. It is very captivating account of one of Australia’s most successful Olympian and clearly one of the greatest swimmers of all time. This no- holds barred and laced with wonderful anecdotes by close friends, family and coaches unravels the man who dominated the pool with his astonishing performances. So what was the precise reason that made him suddenly quit the sport he loved so much at a young age of 24? And why did he return to the pool at the age of 28?
It is not just a book about a seemingly invincible black- suited superman but a refreshingly honest self- examination by a man fighting to find sense in his life. From hopes, fears and ultimate disappointments of his b id to compete at the London Olympics to the recognition of his abiding passion for swimming and his desire to remain involved in the sport, this is the inside story of his journey and its ultimate , explosive truths. Thorpe was not only a mere swimmer. But a very special swimmer. And his feats said it all.
He had won nine Olympic medals ( five Golds) and eleven World Championship Golds. Between 1998 and 2004 he dominated the 400 metres event at every Commonwealth, Pan Pacific, World and Olympic Championships. He consistently broke World records at the 200 and 800 metres events. Much to the shock and awe of his rivals. He was major star in the 100 metres sprint, 200 and 100 metres relay events and won medals in individual medley and backstroke events. Thus proving that he was quite simply a superstar on the pool.
Thorpe readily admits that there were reasons that led to his success when he says : “ Behind my success there are two stories. I was naturally talented with a strangely flexible body and yes, big feet, but again I didn’t win five Olympic Golds medals just because I was genetically gifted. I don’t Know of any other swimmer who swam more kilometres in training over the years, which was the foundation for my performances and ultimately a frustration which contributed to my decision to leave the sport.”
Besides his swimming exploits , Thrope recalls how nightmarish it was to face allegations of drug use, brutal questions questioning his sexuality and the intense competitions with the rivals. Reasons good enough for him to call it quits at 24.
Lastly, During his numerous travels worldwide he had also developed love for the visiting country’s cuisine, culture and customs, and fashion. He recounts in detail how before his own eyes saw two planes crashed into the iconic twin towers of the World Trade centre on September 11, 2001 and bring it down. The very place he was about to visit on that fateful day.
THIS IS ME
SIMON & SCHUSTER