However, paternal pressure detracted from Ken's enjoyment of cricket, and he retired at the age of 26.

Thorpe's rise continued when the Australians arrived in Kuala Lumpur during September for the Commonwealth Games.

Thorpe's first event was the 200 m freestyle, where he led throughout to record a time just one hundredth of a second outside Giorgio Lamberti's world record.

His athletic achievements made him one of Australia's most popular athletes, and he was recognised as the Young Australian of the Year in 2000.

Aside from 13 individual long-course world records, Thorpe anchored the Australian relay teams, numbering the victories in the 4 × 100 m and the 4 × 200 m freestyle relays in Sydney, among his five relay world records.

Along with teammates Michael Klim, Ian van der Wal and Hackett, Thorpe claimed silver, making him the youngest ever Pan Pacific medalist.

In October 1997, a few days before his fifteenth birthday, Thorpe competed in qualifying trials in Brisbane for the 1998 World Aquatics Championships in Perth.

The speculations were substantiated when Thorpe spoke at a February 2011 press conference of his return to swimming after four years away, with the aim of competing in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

A talented batsman, he once topped the season's batting averages ahead of former Australian captain Bob Simpson.

Thorpe's improvement continued when he defeated Klim in the 200 m freestyle in 1 min 47.24 s, faster than Klim's winning time at the World Championship two months earlier. He then claimed the 400 m freestyle title from Hackett and clocked 50.36 s in the 100 m freestyle.