What price fame? The tragedy of Ian Thorpe

IAN Thorpe is the greatest swimmer that Australia has produced. He inspired countless kids when he broke record after record during the Olympics in Sydney in 2000.

It is sad to read that he is once again in the throes of depression; reports of him having checked into rehabilitation have been denied by his management.

It is no secret that Thorpe suffers from debilitating depression. He revealed this when he released his autobiography in 2012.

His attempt to make a comeback for the 2012 London Games failed and that would have not done him much good.

From the heights he reached, breaking world records almost as a matter of course, Thorpe found the return to ordinary life very difficult to handle. He is not the first famous sportsman to face this problem; many turn to drugs, alcohol or pills to handle the change.

The 31-year-old Thorpe has won nine medals, five gold, but has dealt with depression and alcohol for a long time, well before he failed in his comeback.

“Not even my family is aware that I’ve spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as a crippling depression,” Thorpe wrote in his 2012 book, This is Me: The Autobiography.

Thorpe wrote that he abused alcohol on “numerous occasions,” particularly between 2002 and 2004., his final Olympics in Athens.

“I used alcohol as a means to rid my head of terrible thoughts, as a way of managing my moods — but I did it behind closed doors, where many depressed people choose to fight their demons before they realise they can’t do it without help,” he wrote. “I abused myself this way — always alone and in a mist of disgrace. It’s like a weight is pressing down on you. There are days when you just can’t get out of bed. You cannot face the world.

“You tell yourself simple things like: ‘Just get to the kitchen and get a glass of water.’ But not being able to do something so basic is frightening.”

Thorpe has spent much of the last two years in Switzerland, though he has been spotted at the last two Australian Open tennis tournaments in Melbourne.

Thorpe is not the first famous person to suffer this way.

Yet, we have people who try every day to gain their five minutes of fame and make themselves known. People will do anything and everything to grandstand and draw attention to themselves.


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