My ten cent prediction
Australia's most successful and beloved swimmer, Ian Thorpe, has decided to shimmy out of his skin-tight black adidas bodysuit and bow out of professional and olympic swimming.
It appears that the sports loving public here are in an uproar - how dare Thorpey, at the relatively tender age of twenty four, think only of himself and what he would like to do beyond inhaling a litre of chlorinated water during hours of regimented swimming and gym work that commenced every single day from 4am? What kind of an Aussie icon and all-round good bloke lets us down like that?! At least Steve Irwin died in the line of duty. Who the hell does Ian think he is - a free citizen?
This rage really stems from fear. No, no of Thorpey's 'Official Ambassador' status for Paspaley Pearls (hello, we'll get to that later) but the frightening realisation that he will reduce Oz's olympic medal tally by about 70%. You see, here in Aust-ray-yia we value our sporting heroes above all else. We take medal tallies, ashes urns, sailing cups, crystal bowls etc very, very seriously . Cancer cure - pretty good. Dedicated HIV carers - not bad. Shane Warne - bloody legend mate, a legend!
Not that I'm saying that Ian isn't extremely talented in the water and that we won't miss him because we will, but he's been in the public eye for over ten years. From the age of fourteen he was propelled onto the back page of every newspaper and proclaimed as the 'Big Feet, Big Heart, Big Winner' for the future of swimming. Bless him, he would have to be the only tweenie/young teen to be glad to have size 24 feet: with those buggers he could out-paddle an angry dolphin, let alone a Popov, cranky Yank or a cheeky Peter van den Hoogenband.
Here is where I'll chuck in my ten cents' worth, just to add a bit more to the kilometres of smudgy newsprint and inane anchorman opinions already out there. Thorpey will be offered a modelling contract for a swanky, chi-chi designer label for a year or two, giving him the opportunity to travel the world, suck down a few champagnes and occasionally witter on about how 'Fashion is his passion' and how he'd eventually like to design some stuff on his own....
Fast forward a couple more years and he'll be releasing an autobiography - ghost written of course. In perfect, PA-driven timing, he will also officially come out of his perfumed, velvet-lined, 10 metre by 20 metre closet and tearfully announce that he's gay. No real surprise there, except to Aussie folk aged over 60 who secretly harboured fantasies that he'd marry one of their more homely looking grand daughters. The only chapter that will be purchased and printed as an excerpt in magazines will be the one detailing his other, more nocturnal and private uses for his black bodysuit.
The book will sell like wildfire, and he'll then be a permanent fixture at Elton John's post-Academy Awards parties, be asked to write a guest column in Vogue and move to the UK so that he can be "among his dearest friends and supporters, Kylie Minogue, George Michael and Alexander McQueen."
He will then lay low for a while, only occasionally being photographed in the Daily Telegraph's social pages or by No Idea magazine if his weight increases by 3 kilograms and he's snapped eating a bacon buttie.
Just when he's almost disappeared from the Australian landscape and sporting/social consciousness, he'll find his life partner, marry him and move permanently to Switzerland. He will, naturally, "Still call Australia my home", but never set foot on our dry, brown soil again.
Mark my words.