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Home » Life and Work balance » Heroes? Yeah we all admire heroes or, The loneliness of the long distance swimmer, Ian Thorpe

Heroes? Yeah we all admire heroes or, The loneliness of the long distance swimmer, Ian Thorpe


Its no secret that I am far less than keen on any sort of sport, I can see its sociological value as a surrogate for war and for its participants it provides a way to channel their inner warrior but in this age of the professional athlete it also has a tendency to suck up some young people into the maelstrom of fame  and unbridled adulation entirely bereft of  very much humility and on top of that many of the particular sports are incredibly wearing on young bodies never really designed to be so focused on the choreography of “scientific” training. Thus in some sports an athlete is burned out by the time they are truly adults. Add to this the seductive song of fickle  adulation and you have a heady brew that would be despised  as much as tobacco products were it not for the fact that the gurus of the sports industry want very much to foster the notion that sport is good for you and a harbinger of good health.

Which brings me to Ian Thorpe, now in rehab with depression:


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The thing about swimming is that it would have to be one of the most mind numbingly boring sporting pursuits out there, spending hours after hour watching the black line on the pool floor would be enough to do anyone’s head in. I suspect though that its more about a lack of direction in and very high expectations upon the shoulders of this young man that may have precipitated his troubles.

So in the end I just have to put the obvious question. Can “sport” really be that good for anyone if it takes fine young men and women wastes their youth on essentially useless activities, like swimming up and down a concrete puddle, imbues them with the hubris and adulation of being “champions” and then spits them on the scrapheap with no ability to do something else in their lives by the time they  are thirty…

What does being a sporting hero  really mean  Comrades?




  1. Richard Ryan says:

    Ian Thorpe needs to come out of the closet—–we all know he is Gay.

  2. Richard Ryan says:

    Maybe GD can offer him some support?

  3. Iain Hall says:

    Richard, his sexuality is irrelevant

  4. Richard Ryan says:

    Yes it is.

  5. Richard Ryan says:

    Because that is the root of his problem. For the record high rates of suicide among gays.

  6. Iain Hall says:

    If and when Thorpe comes out as gay I may believe such claims about his sexuality however until that time I’m not going to make any assumptions about what rocks his boat for a booty call. That said we live in an age when sexuality is not the big deal it once was so I don’t by the notion that its angst about his sexuality that is at issue for him. If anything I suspect that its finding a role in life after swimming that is more likely to be getting him down.

  7. Ray Dixon says:

    I don’t think Thorpedo’s depression is the result of his sexuality either, Iain. Nor do I think it’s about finding a role after swimming. His mental state and mood swings seem more drug/substance related than anything else.

    As for your question “What does being a sporting hero really mean?”, I think it simply means striving for excellence. To be the very best. To give all you’ve got. I disagree that it’s a wasted pursuit and that all sporting heroes like Thorpe end up with no life and no purpose post their peak. Most do not go off the tracks, lose their way, have breakdowns, etc and are able to continue their careers in other ways. Look at other swimming heroes like Murray Rose and Dawn Fraser. Kieran Perkins is doing okay too. Hmm, not sure about Grant Hackett though but I don’t put him in the same bracket as Rose, Fraser, Perkins & Thorpe.

  8. Iain Hall says:

    as some one who takes pain medication and endures the depressive effects of chronic pain I do appreciate where you are coming form but I still think that its more likely to be a lack of purpose after swimming especially after the total failure of his comeback attempt for the last Olympic games. He has never struck me as being a great intellect and as such he is floundering now he can’t do what he did to win such adulation, adulation that is more addictive than any opiate.

  9. Ray Dixon says:

    He could always give fashion design another crack!

  10. Richard Ryan says:

    Maybe GD could show him how to strum a guitar.

  11. Ray Dixon says:

    He could teach him how to busk in Western Sydney for falafels, maybe? Like GD does.

  12. Richard Ryan says:

    Busking outside a Mosque.

  13. GD says:

    That’s a great idea, I could use a side-kick. It gets a bit heated busking outside the Lakemba mosque, especially when the tea-towel falls off my head. And if Ian Thorpe really is gay, that’ll add to the allure. They just love gay guys out Lakemba way.

  14. Richard Ryan says:

    Gee! GD does have a sense of humor.

  15. GD says:

    Good morning, Richard 🙂

  16. Ray Dixon says:

    Good night, GD. Happy busking (with Thorpie).

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