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At the end of the year, Thorpe qualified for the Australian Short Course Championships.

It was another chance to gain national selection, as the event served as the selection trials for the 1997 FINA World Swimming Championships.

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.

He contested all twelve events, winning ten individual gold and two bronze medals.

Thorpe's time was not enough to qualify for the final, but earned him selection in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay team.

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 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.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.Hackett established a comfortable 2.29 s lead over Thorpe by the 300 m mark, and although Thorpe reduced the margin to 1.53 s at the 350 m mark, Hackett led until Thorpe passed him on the final stroke.