Five-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe visits Port Macquarie

Stars of tomorrow: Ian Thorpe with Keeley Sutton and
Annabelle Broderick at Tuesday's Junior Dolphins
swimming program launch. Photo: Ivan Sajko
Stars of tomorrow: Ian Thorpe with Keeley Sutton and Annabelle Broderick at Tuesday's Junior Dolphins swimming program launch. Photo: Ivan Sajko

FIVE-time Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe is familiar with the challenges Port Macquarie Olympian James Magnussen is currently facing.

His advice is quite simple – stay focused.

Thorpe was first forced to retire at the age of 24 following an injury to his left shoulder, an injury Magnussen is still recovering from following surgery in 2015.

“It’s frustrating – that’s the most difficult part – because you can’t do the things you’ve done before,” he said.

“You get frustrated with yourself and then you can lose motivation from that.

“If James can get back to the times he was producing before the injury it means our relay team would be in contention, if not favourites, to be able to win the relay at the upcoming world championships and Olympics.”

The 34-year-old is no stranger to hard work and finds it difficult to pinpoint which of his Olympic medals stands out above the rest.

When pushed, he admits the two gold medals he won at Sydney in 2000 were the most pleasing.

“For me, if I have highlights I think of the first time swimming at Sydney where I won my first gold medal in the 400-metre freestyle and then the same night we won the 4x100-metre freestyle relay,” he said.

Thorpe is excited about the future of Australian swimming following the recent success of Cameron McEvoy and Kyle Chalmers.

“They’re both exceptionally good swimmers and I think Australia should benefit from that because we’ve got two in that race now that are neck and neck,” he said.

“That will help propel the sport and also inspire a group of younger swimmers to take over when they finish up.”

Thorpe was in Port Macquarie on Tuesday through his role as a national ambassador for the Optus Junior Dolphins program.

The program helps keep young swimmers active and takes place at more than 750 locations across Australia with more than 13,500 kids participating.

He believes these sorts of programs are important for young swimmers, particularly in seaside locations such as the Hastings.

King of the kids: Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe dropped in to Port Macquarie.

King of the kids: Olympic gold medallist Ian Thorpe dropped in to Port Macquarie.

“This program is important because there’s an emphasis on the fun and social aspect of swimming,” he said.

“I think especially for young people that’s what sport should be about because you develop those social skills.

“When we’re talking about these programs, I think you’ve got to ignite this interest in sport in young people.”