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Australian Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe won the most gold medals of any Australian athlete, and was the youngest to win a world championship. He went on to win 10 more.
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Thorpe dominated the 2001 World and the 2002 Pan Pacific championships in all of his events, creating a huge build-up to the 2004 Olympics. The 200-meter freestyle was dubbed the "Race of the Century," with Thorpe, Hackett, van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps as favorites. During the race, Van den Hoogenband was more than a second under the world record at the split,
and Thorpe was half a body length behind. Thorpe passed van den Hoogenband in the last 50 meters, winning by half a body length and setting a new Olympic record. In all, Thorpe won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze medal.
After the 2004 Olympics, Ian Thorpe took a year off from competitive swimming, planning to compete in the 2008 Olympics before he retired. In a series of missteps, illness and injury, he finally felt compelled to announce his retirement in November 2006. In February 2011, he declared his intent to compete in the 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London, stoking speculation of a renewed rivalry with Michael Phelps. However, he faded early at the Australian Olympic trials in his two favorite events, the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyle, and set his sights on the 2013 World Championships.
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