Skip to main content

Ian Thorpe: Swimming star in rehab

February 3, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe is currently in rehab undergoing treatment for depression. The former swimming champion, who is Australia's most successful Olympian, has struggled to adjust to life since retiring from the sport. Five-time Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe is currently in rehab undergoing treatment for depression. The former swimming champion, who is Australia's most successful Olympian, has struggled to adjust to life since retiring from the sport.
HIDE CAPTION
Fighting depression
Thorpe checks into rehab
Golden wonder
High five
End of the road
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Ian Thorpe admitted to rehab with depression
  • Was found by police disorientated in Sydney, early Monday morning
  • Speculation of depression and alcoholism were rejected last week
  • Autobiography mentioned thoughts of suicide, heavy drinking and depression

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Ian Thorpe, Australia's greatest Olympian, has been admitted to rehabilitation in an effort to battle his depression.

Police in Sydney were called in the early hours of Monday morning after the 31-year-old former swimming champion was spotted behaving strangely near a vehicle and was judged to be disorientated.

The five-time gold medalist was taken to Bankstown hospital before being transferred to rehab just days after his management company rejected speculation that Thorpe had undergone treatment for depression and alcoholism.

"Following a fall at home on Tuesday, Ian was admitted to hospital after sustaining an injury to his shoulder," Thorpe's management company told CNN.

Why is Australia faltering at Games?
Ian Thorpe's comeback in the pool
For Ian Thorpe, watching the reaction from Bert Le Clos after his son beat Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, was "one of those moments that you can't help but love." Thorpe says: "This big, burly South African man -- who looked quite frightening -- crying, tears rolling down his face, screaming at the camera: "It's my beautiful boy." For Ian Thorpe, watching the reaction from Bert Le Clos after his son beat Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, was "one of those moments that you can't help but love." Thorpe says: "This big, burly South African man -- who looked quite frightening -- crying, tears rolling down his face, screaming at the camera: "It's my beautiful boy."
Memorable moments -- Ian Thorpe
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
Olympics 2012: Memorable moments Olympics 2012: Memorable moments

"He underwent surgery on Wednesday and was discharged the following day. On Sunday, Ian was taken to Bankstown Hospital and then onto a rehabilitation clinic after being found disorientated and trying to get in to what he thought was a friend's car.

"Ian had been on a series of painkillers and antidepressants following surgery on his shoulder. No alcohol was involved and Ian was admitted to rehabilitation for his ongoing struggle with depression.

"The family have requested the public and media respect their privacy at this time."

Thorpe, one of the most recognizable faces in Australian sport, revealed he has struggled to adjust to life after his failure to make the team for the 2012 London Olympics.

While friends and family have rallied around Thorpe, the star has failed to reach an even keel.

In his autobiography, which was published last year, Thorpe admitted that he had spent "a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as crippling depression.

"I suppose it was inevitable that I'd turn to other, artificial ways of managing my feelings, and I found alcohol."

Thorpe's admission comes just days after his management company was forced to deny speculation that the former Olympic champion had booked into rehab.

But this latest episode signals a turn for the worse for one of swimming's most iconic figures.

Thorpe retired from competitive action in 2006 only to launch a failed comeback six years later where he attempted to qualify for the London Games.

He had harbored hopes of being selected for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July but a shoulder injury scuppered his chances and led to him retiring from competitive swimming for a final time.

Thorpe had spent the past 18 months living in Switzerland but returned to Sydney to spend Christmas with his parents.

I used alcohol as a means to rid my head of terrible thoughts, as a way of managing my moods
Ian Thorpe

His manager, James Erskine, confirmed Thorpe insisted his client had no alcohol in his system when he was met by police but was under influence of antidepressants and medication for his shoulder.

In his book, Thorpe revealed how he was often driven to alcohol to find some kind of release.

"I used alcohol as a means to rid my head of terrible thoughts, as a way of managing my moods," he wrote.

"I did it behind closed doors, where many depressed people choose to fight their demons before they realize they can't do it without help.

"There were numerous occasions as I trained to defend my Olympic titles in Athens that 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.''

The swimmer, nicknamed 'Thorpedo', came to prominence at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by winning three gold and two silver medals.

His abnormally large hands and feet, which explained his incredible speed, brought him great success and won him thousands of fans.

He followed up his success four years later in Athens by clinching two more gold medals.

Thorpe also won 11 World Championships gold medals, including six in 2001.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
From spectacular action at the Commonwealth Games , to high-speed drama on the race track, here are the week's best sporting images.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1606 GMT (0006 HKT)
Whisper it quietly, but after years of foreign domination the prospect of a French winner of the Tour de France is more than just a mere pipe dream.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Seven years ago Steve Way was a 20 per day smoker and weighed a hefty 104 kg, but he led the marathon at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
After just one day of competition, a new sport has emerged at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow: snapping selfies with the Queen.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Inspirational cyclist Joanna Rowsell added another gold to her growing collection in the individual pursuit at the Commonwealth Games.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0404 GMT (1204 HKT)
At the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, an actor upstaged the Queen by kissing a male dancer.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1200 GMT (2000 HKT)
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
May 7, 2014 -- Updated 1636 GMT (0036 HKT)
Second-tier French side Clermont Foot appoint Helena Costa -- the country's first ever professional female coach of a male team.
April 25, 2014 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
The All Blacks and their fans are focused on one thing, says Dan Carter: becoming the first rugby nation to win back-to-back World Cups.
April 4, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The 2002 bomb attacks in Bali had many victims -- including a touring rugby team from Hong Kong.
Photographer Danny Lyon spent three days with Muhammad Ali in 1972 and shares his best photos and memories of the champ.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
With a growing audience boosted by the drama of ice hockey on show in Sochi at the Winter Olympics, can the sport capitalize on its popularity?
January 20, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Her paintings may sell for thousands of dollars, but she is best known for a modeling shot 50 years ago that helped launch a business empire.
ADVERTISEMENT