Thorpe: ‘I would love being a father’
It's a title few of us would ever consider when asked to describe Australia's greatest swimmer.
Thorpey. Thorpedo. Olympic champion. Our Greatest.
Or legend, as it will be tomorrow night when, among the country's most-gifted athletes, the 35-year-old will be elevated to legend status in the NSW Hall of Champions at a gala ceremony at Rosehill Gardens.
Early on, some coaches tried to have 'Flipper' stick when the boy from Milperra was chosen on his first national team with a shoe size greater than his age, 14.
Father could soon work, too.
Like the desire to tie the knot to partner Ryan Channing - soon-to-be legally possible after Australia's historic same-sex marriage vote - Thorpe also hopes for a day when he's simply called Dad.
"I've always wanted to have a family - a family of my own,'' Thorpe told The Sunday Telegraph.
"I've loved being an uncle and I would love being a father as well.
"As for getting married, you'll have to ask me after Christmas (the anticipated parliament approval date for same-sex marriage).''
But for now, it's Uncle Ian, a title afforded him by the arrival of his beloved sister Christine's first boy.
Yet, excitedly for an Australian swimming team that is straddling the line between great hope and great failure, a loving uncle who cares, protects and fosters the next generation is how Thorpe also views his role within the sport. In the wake of Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson resigning on Thursday to run AFL giants Collingwood, Thorpe said his output would be "wasted" in administration.
Instead, his passion lies in sharing his know-how with our next wave of stars, including Mack Horton, Cameron McEvoy and Tasmanian teen sensation, Ariarne Titmus.
"I think it's part of being a champion in sport,'' Thorpe said.
"You have to be someone who was inspired by those who've come before you.
"I was and so, if that happens to you, you have to be willing to pass it on to another generation, to support them and elevate them as well.
"And what I can do with the athletes at the moment, I love.
"It's like being an uncle, which I am. When you bring fresh eyes to a program, it's not that you have the ability to see things differently, it's just that you haven't seen something over and over in training.
"You can pick up on what might be a mistake or what's looking good. Whether it's planning out what the season looks like, or whether it's the psychology around performance, which is a huge area.
"Take Cate Campbell (who finished sixth in the 100m freestyle at the Rio Olympics despite being the 2016 world record holder) for example. We saw her reaction when she said 'that was the biggest choke in Olympic history' and it was horrible to watch.
"There was only one result that she really thought that she could leave that meet with. Gold. I don't want to say athletes shouldn't think about winning because, yes, you should.
"But on race day, for anyone, it doesn't matter what level of performance you're looking at, if you do the things that you know and you get the process right, you'll increase your chance of the outcome.
"It's sounds really simple but it's a lot harder. And that's what I want to impart.
"Training is the slog, it's where you can project, 'I want to be the world champion and I'm going to do this'. But once you get to the competition, if you're thinking about the result, you're going to miss it entirely.''
As for what he's seen from Australia's swimmers and what he can predict for next year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Thorpe suggested optimism.
"I think we'll win 10 gold medals at the Commonwealth Games, that's from what I saw at the world championships (last July),'' he said.
"The team is looking good. In the men's 100m freestyle, we have two of the three fastest swimmers in the world; and similarly in the women's.
"The Commonwealth Games, between Kyle Chalmers and Cam McEvoy, will be very exciting to watch.
"There's also Mack Horton, who became an Olympic champion but also in the women's, we've got Ariarne Titmus.
"She's a great talent and someone I've got no doubt can improve with continued hard work.''
Spoken like a true uncle.