Thorpe fan Guy aims to leave his own Olympic mark

Thu Apr 21, 2016 9:33pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

BATH, England (Reuters) - James Guy idolized Australian great Ian Thorpe as a boy and now Britain's 200 meters freestyle world champion hopes to inspire a new generation of swimmers when he makes his Olympic debut in Rio this August.

The 20-year-old is one of the big hopes of a revived British team as winner of two golds and a silver at last year's worlds in Kazan, Russia, in the same discipline that the 'Thorpedo' once dominated.

Speaking on Thursday after Team GB announced a 26-strong swim squad, Guy reminisced about that first Olympic memory that fired his imagination.

"In 2004, the 'Race of the Century', watching (Dutch defending champion Pieter) van den Hoogenband, (American Michael) Phelps and Thorpe doing the 200 free. That was something special," he smiled.

"I remember Dad saying ‘Oh, there’s a new American guy on TV’. I was like ‘Who is he, never even heard of him before. I bet he’s crap, isn’t he?

"Dad said: ‘He’ll beat Thorpe in the 200’ 'He won’t beat Thorpe'. 'He will'. I remember watching the TV and screaming and screaming and Thorpe won. Thorpey was my hero."

Phelps, now the most decorated Olympian of all time with 22 medals from three Games including 18 golds, won six titles at Athens in 2004 while still a teenager. He had won four golds already at the 2003 world championships.

Thorpe, then the 200m freestyle world record holder, had been the most successful male swimmer at the previous 2000 Games in Sydney.   Continued...

Swimming - Team GB - Rio 2016 Swimming Team Announcement - University of Bath - 21/4/16
Great Britain's James Guy poses
Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne