Thorpe tells his story straight
This Is Me: The Autobiography
By Ian Thorpe Simon & Schuster, 323pp, $45 (HB)
IN the lexicon of sporting nicknames, Thorpedo is a brilliantly evocative description of Australian swimming’s golden boy, Ian Thorpe, who turned the sport on its axis as a 17-year-old at the Sydney Olympics when he won three gold medals.
It was a tabloid-headline moniker that fitted perfectly and stuck.
Thorpe’s biography, This Is Me, has made headlines, too, but mainly for its personal, rather than sporting, revelations: here the champion swimmer is stripped back to show how fame at such a young age — he was 14 when first named in the Australian team — brought its own burdens, and how welldocumented media slights on his personal life affected him.
Thorpe’s indignation in this book is aimed at the media, with some justification, though this raises the prickly issue of a sporting superstar’s right to privacy while milking all the trappings of the high life via endorsements. It’s an issue most pronounced in swimming, a sport that most of us only truly care about every four years. Thorpe clearly hasn’t quite worked it out, even now.
This Is Me, written with journalist Robert Wainwright, unveils a man who seemed to have the world at his size-17 feet but was clouded by self-doubt.
True, the media has practically baited him into saying more about his sexuality, and his gripes about that are understandable. Thorpe has never felt the need to broadcast details of