Australia's greatest Olympian Ian Thorpe calls for increased sports funding ...

Australia needs to increase funding to elite athletes if it is to ever experience another 'golden era' of sport, according to the country's most successful Olympian.

Swimming champion Ian Thorpe told Daily Mail Australia that elite sport was not being adequately funded ahead of next year's Tokyo Olympics. 

'Funding needs to increase,' the five-time Olympic gold medal winner said. 'We haven't seen a real increase in elite sport for several years now. 

'If you look at inflation and things like that there's actually been a decrease.'

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Australia needs to increase funding to elite athletes if it is ever to experience another golden era of sporting performance, according to the country's most successful Olympian, Ian Thorpe. 'If you look at inflation and things like that there's actually been a decrease,' he says

Australia needs to increase funding to elite athletes if it is ever to experience another golden era of sporting performance, according to the country's most successful Olympian, Ian Thorpe. 'If you look at inflation and things like that there's actually been a decrease,' he says

Australia won 16 events at the Sydney Olmpics in 2000 and 17 in Athens in 2004. Gold medal and total tallies have dropped at the three Olympics since. Pictured (L-R) are the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team from Sydney: Ashley Callus, Chris Fydler, Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe

Australia won 16 events at the Sydney Olmpics in 2000 and 17 in Athens in 2004. Gold medal and total tallies have dropped at the three Olympics since. Pictured (L-R) are the 4 x 100m freestyle relay team from Sydney: Ashley Callus, Chris Fydler, Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe

Thorpe said the federal government should not ignore sport even while the economy was being pummelled by COVID-19 and the country was in recession. A couple in protective masks is seen in Tokyo in February a month before this year's Olympics was postponed until next year

Thorpe said the federal government should not ignore sport even while the economy was being pummelled by COVID-19 and the country was in recession. A couple in protective masks is seen in Tokyo in February a month before this year's Olympics was postponed until next year

Thorpe said the federal government should not ignore sport even while the economy was being pummelled by COVID-19 and the country was in recession. 

'It's part of what will be a broader conversation as Australia recovers through what's going to be a pretty tough recession,' he said. 'It's going to be a tough conversation to have.

'But I also think that we need to support things like sport and the arts because it actually is something that helps identify us as a nation.'

Thorpe was reflecting on the future of Australian sport as he marked the 20th anniversary of the Sydney Olympics, when the nation finished fourth on the medal table.

Thorpe won the 400m freestyle and 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relays at the 2000 Games and the 200m and 400m freestyle finals at Athens four years later. He is pictured celebrating winning his gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics

Thorpe won the 400m freestyle and 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relays at the 2000 Games and the 200m and 400m freestyle finals at Athens four years later. He is pictured celebrating winning his gold medal in the 400m freestyle at the Sydney Olympics 

'When people reflect back on things like this, the Sydney Olympics, and they feel great about it, it shows that there's an inherent value in performing for the country at the top level,' he said. 

Thorpe won the 400m freestyle and 4 x 100m and 4 x 200m freestyle relays at the 2000 Games and the 200m and 400m freestyle finals at Athens four years later. 

'It was a golden time for Australian sport,' the 37-year-old said of the early years of this century.

'I think when you look across all sports we were performing exceptionally well, whether it was in rugby, in cricket, all of the international sports that we see.

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