He became the youngest World Champion ever, when he represented Australia in the 1998 World Championships at Perth with only fourteen years old.
In 2001 he won six gold medals at the World Aquatics Championships becoming the first Athlete to win this number of medals in one World Championship. He has won a total of eleven gold medals at World Championships, Thorpe was also named four times Swimming World Swimmer of the Year. Among other titles he was the Australian Swimmer of the Year for five years in a row (1999-2003) also in 2000 he was named the Young Australian of the Year becoming one of the most popular Athletes in the Country.
He dominated the 400 metre freestyle to perfection, winning this event in various competitions such as the Olympics, the World Commonwealth and the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships until 2004. During this period, he was known as Ian “Thorpedo” Thorpe, a nickname resulting from a combination of his great speed as a swimmer and his last name. It was after that year’s Olympics held at Athens that Thorpe decided to take a break for a Year.
In 2006 he managed to make a comeback to swimming by participating at the Commonwealth Games, but this was not possible due to illness. Sadly, he announced his early retirement on November of that same year after cancelling his training.
It was in 2011 when he finally announced his return to swimming after a long four-year absence, his goal was to compete at the London Olympics in 2012 but he failed to gain a place in the Australian Olympic Team. He made another attempt to qualify for the World Championships in 2013 (Barcelona) and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow for 2014, because of an injury he was held back. Later that year, Macquarie University granted him a Doctor of Letters for his outstanding career as an athlete and his contributions to philanthropy.