“I’m not straight, and this is only something that very recently — we’re talking in the past two weeks — I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me,” decorated Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe told interviewer Michael Parkinson July 13.
The 31-year-old Australian, nicknamed the Thorpedo for his record-breaking exploits at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Championships, had in the past denied he is gay in the face of much public speculation about his sexuality.
“I was already living somewhat of a lie in my life because I was trying to be what I thought was the right athlete by other people’s standards,” he told Parkinson. “Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But you know, I am telling not only Australia; I’m telling the world I am. And I hope this makes it easier for others now, and even if you’ve held it in for years, it feels better to lift this and get this out.”
Thorpe also spoke about his struggles with depression, which he has battled for much of his life.
While some responded with homophobic posts and comments on social media, for the most part, the reaction to Thorpe’s coming out has been positive.
Thorpe’s Olympic medal haul includes five gold, three silver and one bronze. He also swam to 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals and copped 11 World Championship titles in his storied career.