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He won five Olympic gold medals, lit up the 2000 games in his hometown of Sydney, and remains one of the most recognisable sports stars on the planet.
However, were it not for a fortunate twist of fate the day of the 9/11 attacks, Ian Thorpe may not have been alive now to tell the tale.
Thorpe, 38, was in New York City at the time and had planned to visit the World Trade Centre on the day the fateful events unfolded.
A year after his Olympic heroics, he was out on an early morning run when realising he had forgotten his camera, so promptly headed back to where he was staying.
“I went down there on the morning of 9/11. It was early in the morning and I went for a run.
“I grabbed a coffee and walked back to my hotel room, and literally in that period of time the planes hit. It was a very, very close call.
“I had a friend Michelle who was staying with me. She was the one who was going to get up and go for a run. I was telling her to wake me up because we were going to go to the World Trade Centre together.
“I said we could go up the World Trade Centre in the morning and then you do the Empire State Building at night.
“But in the end I was the one that went down there. With things like that, you realise it’s fate.
“Some things were meant to be, and I realise I am very lucky.”
The man dubbed 'Thorpedo', who also won 11 World Championship gold medals to go with his Olympic haul, still regards New York as his 'second home', but has never forgotten how close he came to becoming a victim of the 9/11 tragedy, which killed 2,977 people and injured 6000 more.
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Six other athletes however, weren't so fortunate.
Hockey player Mark Bavis, former basketball player Dan Trant, former lacrosse player Eamon McEneaney, cricketer Nezam Hafiz, ice hockey player Garnet Bailey – a former Stanley Cup winner, and gymnastics coach Mari-Rae Sopper all lost their lives in the attacks.
Bavis played for the South Carolina Stingrays and was also a scout for the Los Angeles Kings and after his death, the player’s family founded the Mark Bavis Leadership Foundation, helping young people in pursuit of success.
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