Five great Ian Thorpe moments in his swimming career

Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, a five-time Olympic champion, at a press conference at Marina Mandarin Hotel on Nov 3, 2011. -- NP FILE PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, a five-time Olympic champion, at a press conference at Marina Mandarin Hotel on Nov 3, 2011. -- NP FILE PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Australian swimmers Grant Hackett (left) and Ian Thorpe (right) with their medals after the 400m freestyle final at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens on Aug 14, 2004. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Australian swimmers Grant Hackett (left) and Ian Thorpe (right) with their medals after the 400m freestyle final at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens on Aug 14, 2004. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Australia's Ian Thorpe punches the air after winning the 200m freestyle in an Olympic record time of 1min 44.71sec, as second-placed Pieter van den Hoogenband of Holland leans across to congratulate him. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALBERT SIM
Australia's Ian Thorpe punches the air after winning the 200m freestyle in an Olympic record time of 1min 44.71sec, as second-placed Pieter van den Hoogenband of Holland leans across to congratulate him. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALBERT SIM
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe (second from right) at the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup final on Nov 4, 2011. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe (second from right) at the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup final on Nov 4, 2011. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Ian Thorpe swims in the men's 100m butterfly preliminary session at the Fina Swimming World Cup short-course meet in Tokyo on Nov 13, 2011. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Ian Thorpe swims in the men's 100m butterfly preliminary session at the Fina Swimming World Cup short-course meet in Tokyo on Nov 13, 2011. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Ian Thorpe celebrates on the podium after winning the men's 200m freestyle gold medal, at the 2004 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens on Aug 16, 2004. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
Ian Thorpe celebrates on the podium after winning the men's 200m freestyle gold medal, at the 2004 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatic Centre in Athens on Aug 16, 2004. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe is currently fighting a serious infection after undergoing shoulder surgery. There are fears that the 31-year-old may lose the use of his left arm.

Nicknamed "Thorpedo", the freestyle expert dominated the pool in the early part of the previous decade, winning a total of five Olympic golds and breaking a series of records in his glittering career.

Here are five of Thorpe's greatest sporting moments.

1) Aged 15, Ian Thorpe gave the world its first glimpse of his prowess in the pool. The gangly teenager out-touched team-mate Grant Hackett, 17, to claim the 400m freestyle title (4.46.29) at the 1998 World Championships in Perth to become the youngest individual world champion.

2) Faced with fanatical home support at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Thorpe struck gold on three separate occasions, including a world record time of 3.40.59 in the 400m freestyle. He also took home two silver medals at sport's biggest showpiece for good measure.

 

3) The records kept tumbling for the amazing Australian. Thorpe became the first person to win six gold medals at the 2001 World Aquatic Championships in Fukuoka. The Aussies' 4x200m freestyle relay team of Thorpe, Hackett, Michael Klim and Bill Kirby also set another world record (7.04.66), shaving more than 2.5 seconds of their winning time from the 2000 Olympics.

 

4) There were more bursts from the 'Thorpedo' in Fukuoka. In the 200m freestyle, the 18-year-old stunned in-form Dutchman Pieter Van Den Hoogenband in a blistering time of 1.44.06, lowering his own world record by 0.63s. The record held for six years before the next swim king Michael Phelps lowered it at the 2007 World Championships.

 

5) The Thorpe world tour continued on to Manchester, where yet another world record tumbled at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The Aussie's mark of 3.40.08 in the 400m freestyle took seven whole years to be bettered, by German Paul Biedermann.