NOVEMBER 2007: Fans and dignitaries were stunned today when a young child failed to recognise swimming champion Ian Thorpe at the official launch of the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont.
As the multi-gold medal winner went to say hello to Jimmy Nicholson, 8, the child asked who he was?
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP spluttered that this was Ian Thorpe, probably Australia’s greatest ever Olympian.
The kid shrugged and said: “Never heard of him.”
Thorpe laughed off the incident later, saying he had never heard of Jimmy Nicholson before today either. However, in an unconnected report, the retired swimmer was reportedly spotted howling his eyes out in the men’s toilets moments after the kid’s gaffe.
Nicholson’s mother, Gina, said she had patiently explained to her son why Ian Thorpe was the greatest swimmer in the history of the world and had also pointed out that the entire new swimming complex was named after him.
“Thorpey has been in a good paddock, as the horse racing world like to say, since he retired. Maybe that’s why Jimmy didn’t associate him with the lean, magnificent swimming machine of old,” she said.
The Nicholsons have been asked politely not to attend the planned opening of the Craig Stevens Aquatic Centre in Brisbane later this week.