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Ian Thorpe, Dennis Lillee join hall of fame ‘legends’

Thorpe was 17 when he won three gold medals in Sydney.

Thorpe was 17 when he won three gold medals in Sydney. Photo: AAP

Cricket great Dennis Lillee and swimming hero Ian Thorpe have been elevated to legend status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

The pair join 42 other Australian sporting icons, including Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Sir Donald Bradman, Dawn Fraser, Bart Cummings and Cathy Freeman, as receiving Sport Australia’s highest honour.

Athletes must be retired for at least 15 years before being considered for elevation to legend status.

Lillee, whose glittering 70-Test career ended in 1984, was inducted into the HoF the following year but has had wait another 36 years to be recognised as a legend.

When he left international cricket, Lillee was the leading Test wicket-taker with 355. His tally remains the fourth-highest for an Australian, behind only Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Nathan Lyon.

“You couldn’t do it without them (his teammates),” the former tearaway fast bowler said.

“We had some great teams during my career, but more than anything, they were all great blokes. They were like family.”

Thorpe is the most successful male Olympian in Australia’s history, and entered the HoF in 2008.

In nine years of elite swimming, Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals and set 23 world records.

As a 17-year-old, Thorpe was the star of Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, claiming three gold and two silver medals in front of his home crowd.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to be part of a group of people who have shaped the Australian sporting and cultural identity around the world,” Thorpe said.

-AAP

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