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4.1 out of 5 stars29
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 27 May 2013
A sense of sadness on finishing this book. Perhaps the tale of a career in decline is bound to be harder to sustain than that of a career in the ascendant. Thorpe is a man of prodigious sporting talent, and energy, founding a charity when he was just 18, but his has also been a life fraught with challenges (he's still only 30). Unfairly accused of drug use despite being an ardent campaigner against drugs in sport, hounded over allegations about his sexuality and relentlessly scrutinized by predatory journalists throughout his career - pressure which eventually contributed to his taking a retirement from which he has now emerged. And it is this re-emergence which forms the substance of the book. But alongside athletic success Thorpe suffered from depression, something he kept secret from the public, even from his family, instead seeking comfort in alcohol.
The book is subtitled `This is Me', and it is what drives him, what sustains him, which would be really interesting. Instead the central section of the book is a rather bland catalogue of training and competitions. It is sadly only in the opening sections and in his final (courageous) admission of his depression that we get something of the person, of `me', which is more of a pity because he's a complex and attractive individual. Perhaps he felt he'd opened up enough. The resulting auto/biography is interesting, if ultimately frustrating.
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on 6 November 2012
I remember watching Ian Thorpe on tv when he competed in the 1998 Commonwealth Games. Even then, aged 15, it was clear that this guy was something special. Two years later, I again sat glued in front of my tv as Ian, dressed in what would become the iconic black full body suit, dazzled people around the world with his phenomenal swimming technique and grace as he went on to win 3 Olympic gold medals. 4 years later in Athens, despite increased media scrutiny and a difficult time Olympic trials, he seemed to pick up from where he left off to win a further 2 Olympic golds, and become Austarlia's most successful ever Olympian.

If any of that info is a surprise to you, then you're really going to be taken aback by this book. Ian's accomplishments were and still are staggering, and he's definitely the best technical swimmer I have ever seen. He's like a merman; the way he moves through the water is poetry in motion. Fortunately, he tries to articulate this in the pages of 'This Is Me' to explain how he fell in love with the sport, and why he chose to come back.

However, it hasn't always been plain sailing for Ian. That was clear when he retired in 2006. It seemed too early, and yet sort of inevitable. He'd been worn down and I think he was physically and emotionally spent. In spite of his acheivements, many seemed to unfairly criticise him. I'm still not sure why this has been the case, as I personaly feel that he has always come across as a thoroughly genuine and sincere individual. I think some of it is tall-poppy syndrome, and I think a lot of people have sadly overlooked Ian's past triumphs and accolades by unfairly drawing comparisons between him and Michael Phelps. I don't feel that a comparison is right or fair, and I hope that this book will remind those that read it, or inform those who don't remember Ian's early career, of just how important he was for the sport.

What I didn't expect from 'This Is Me' was one of the later revelations in the book. I had no idea that Ian was battling personal demons, and had been from the very first moment I saw him swim on tv. As a young person who has battled similar issues, I could completely relate to the feelings that Ian describes in the latter stages of this book, and understand how difficult and , at times, embarrassing it feels to speak out. I have a new found respect for Ian - not simply as a swimmer, but as a human being.

If you didn't know anything about him prior to his BBC stint for the London 2012 games, you should prepare yourself for a lot of swimming talk in this book. (Seems obvious to say but I bet some of you will be surprised!) However, his descriptions are truly beautiful and emotive, enabling readers to connect with him, even if we can't relate directly to his experience of his sport. He's open and honest about his career and his views - from religion, to politics and other things beside. You get an idea of what makes him tick and it's very insightful. He's a truly remarkable man.

But more than that, you get a glimpse of just how much he's endured, and what he's still prepared to put himself through for one thing - his love of swimming. I for one am so glad that he's fallen in love with his sport again. I salute you, Thorpey!
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on 4 May 2014
I was disappointed with this book. It was obviously conceived as an accompaniment to Ian Thorpe's glorious return to swimming at the London Olympics, and the structure of the book leads you up to the big moment at the qualifiers, which then ends "not with a bang, but a whimper". It's a shame because the book is at its best and most interesting as a log of the work and training that goes in to elite swimming and of course we all see the success and the glory on the TV, but what it's like to wake up the next morning and remember you just put years of work into not making it into the Olympic team? In many ways that's where a story gets interesting, but here, that's where the story essentially cuts out.

The personal life-history stuff is pretty clumsily done. It's interspersed with the training log, but has no real structure. It isn't a chronological life story, nor is it tied into themes in the log, it just seems to be random and patchy. There's a little bit of stuff about family background and upbringing, a skip through some early experiences in the pool, but surprisingly little about the early swimming career. It feels odd to read a book about someone who's famous for winning many Olympic medals and yet not really get the story of how he won them. Instead you get a disproportionate amount of ranting about media intrusion into his life - which, given that I'm not Australian, I wasn't aware of and at times it felt like Ian Thorpe was shouting at me for something I didn't do. There's a lot of denials of stories that have been in the press, putting the record straight, type of segments, making the book more "This Isn't Me" than "This Is Me".

Ultimately I was left with the over-riding feeling that Ian Thorpe hates me for having the temerity to buy the book that he (and his ghost writer) wrote. I'm sorry, Ian, I just wanted to read about swimming :-(
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on 6 December 2012
I have always admired Ian Thorpe from a young age and so you can imagine the excitement when it was announced he would be writing a book.

Not only did I find the details about his training regime and dedication to his sport interesting but the complete honesty about other areas of his life made me idolise him even more.

I related to this book a lot more than any other because Thorpe went into fie detail about not fitting in and the thought patterns that took years for him to make sense of. His psychological reasoning of some of hie behaviours and thoughts were enlightening. His chapters on depression and media scrutiny as well as feeling isolated are i think the most endearing parts of the book.

If people now don't appreciate him a lot more and the media don't give him the space he needs in order to cope, then its a sad day.

Thanks for being so honest Ian, It helped me a lot!
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on 19 November 2012
If you are in any way a fan of Ian Thorpe or swimming I would recommend this book. If you are looking for a juicy salacious tell-all, this is not it. Also, you cannot really read this without knowing anything about swimming or his career, but then I doubt you would be interested. However, if you are, just read his wiki page and that should be sufficient.

The book is organized in a diary format in the year leading up to the Olympics. Each entry starts in the present-day struggle to earn a spot on the Aussie Olympic team, and then it reverts back to past memories or his personal ideas or beliefs on issues. The flashbacks are not in chronological order which I suppose is true to how a person looks back on past events, but it can be a little confusing at times. It's easier to read if you take each chapter at a time and don't try to organize it in your head like I did. The transitions from the present day to past events made me keenly aware that this was written by two writers. I imagine Ian kept a diary, and then very separately wrote about past events and the professional writer put it all together and published it in three months. So, like so many books now, it was rushed, and while clearly very edited, there are some grammatical errors and a lack of fluidity. This is why it lost a star for me. Either keep it real and rough, the way a diary is written, or make it perfectly professional. This was very much in between the two.

I will say the honesty throughout is really refreshing. You get a very good sense of what it must have been like to be a a champion at such a young age and the pressures he has lived with all these years and again with his comeback. He clearly is a very sensitive and private person and, as a long-time fan, this is his most revealing project. This might be the first time we get a real sense of who he his. The problem, of course, is he still is that private person. Unlike many other athletes's memoirs, some private issues are addressed but still glazed over or kept vague. I am not really holding the book against it, but it's important to know if you read a lot of autobiographies. I would not call it a tell-all. The exception I would say is the now famous excerpt on depression. This was very raw and honest and deserves the attention it is receiving.

~The following is truly personal opinion that did not factor into my review.

He's gets annoyed but not angry, happy but not overjoyed. The anxiety seems to be the strongest emotion he feels in his comeback, and overall I was left with a feeling of sadness, which I can't completely explain. It is extremely rare that a very shy, sensitive person would become a famous athlete. This I think it what made him and continues to make him so interesting. However, those personality traits are disastrous combined with massive media attention and scrutiny. You receive a huge sense of this in the book. We are told he found the joy in swimming again, but there is not a lot of joy in this book. There is clearly still a Part II to his life which he hasn't even begun, and I hope he finds more happiness there.
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on 24 January 2015
I am a big fan of Ian Thorpe and bought it and started reading away. It was interesting at first and then got a bit bogged down in an extended account of his training about half way so I left the book for about a month. Before I could finish it suddenly he came out on television. He spent so much time dancing around the point with different language denying it in the book. Having said that, good on him for coming out. Not sure if will finish reading it, would have preferred to read it if it was written later.
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on 22 November 2012
I picked this book up after watching a recent interview with Ian Thorpe. I didn't know much about swimming or the man himself, but I was stuck by how differently he spoke when compared to other sports people who have this tendency to give robotic answers to journalists.

He describes swimming with real passion. He even makes the technical aspects of the sport seem interesting - I didn't realise there was so much to it!! He speaks with honesty about his success. He acknowledges that he really was a sensational swimmer, but he doesn't make the reader feel that he is better than any other person for this. The only other autobiography I have read by an Australian athlete is Greg Norman's book The Way of the Shark and he was disgustingly arrogant to the point I had to book the book down after reading through the first few chapters.

Ian also talks about his interests outside swimming which are very different to what you might expect from the typical alpha male athletes. He is a fan of the arts and fashion, he likes things that are `aesthetically pleasing'. But what really made this a great book is the way he explores his emotions, and his political and social opinions. He talks about racial disadvantage in Australia with real passion. He is brutally honest about the low points in his life and the emotional strain that celebrities and elite athletes have to endure.

All in all a very interesting read, even for someone who like me knows or has little interest in swimming.
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on 9 October 2013
I really enjoyed this book, it was very interesting to read about someone on top of their game coming back to challenge only themselves. I actually felt like Thorpe got lot off his chest and revealed more about himself than I had anticipated. Very humble and nice guy, which is portrayed well in sometimes a sad way
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on 17 May 2014
didn't give it 5 stars because it only deals with his comeback to swimming and only make General references to his earlier and more successul part of his career. Great to learn about his struggles with Depression and media Invasion. Found it very honest.
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on 7 September 2015
I love this book.its not a book where someone brags about all his medals and victories..it gives a real insight into the world of an olympian.his doubts and struggles and his good times too..its really a good read from a great athlete.
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