Michael Phelps landed a second honor for his unrivaled Olympic career in a week at BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year ceremony Sunday night.
The 23-time Olympic champion was bestowed a lifetime achievement award by Prince William with Phelps’ old Australian rival Ian Thorpe to their side.
“You are one of the greatest sporting icons that sport has ever had, and your 23 gold medals, never mind all the other colors, pales into sheer superhuman history,” the prince said to Phelps on stage. “You should be so proud of your achievements. It’ll be many, many years before, if ever, anyone stands here again and calls you the greatest athlete in history. So, many, many congratulations. Hopefully your retirement gives someone else a chance now.”
Ian Thorpe may not be competing in pools anymore, but he is not far from them.
The Australian swimming legend starred in spoof ads for “Thorpedo” pool cleaning service that were published in the last week.
Thorpe, 33, retired after a failed comeback bid for the 2012 Olympics and then underwent rehab for alcohol abuse and depression, in addition to battling a serious infection following shoulder surgery.
He is very much involved with what appears to be a resurgent Australian swimming program. It was reported earlier this year that he would mentor current Australian swimmers, and he was present at the Olympic Trials in April.
Thorpe was the biggest star in swimming before Michael Phelps, capturing nine medals combined in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics.
Retired Australian Olympic champion Ian Thorpe said a surgeon told him he won’t be able to swim recreationally again due to his surgically repaired left shoulder, according to the Australian.
“I have taken about five strokes, but I can’t lift my arm out of the water,” Thorpe said, according to the newspaper. “Maybe in another 12 months I’ll be able to do something because it’s already far better than the surgeon expected.