Asia-Pacific

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Ian Thorpe hid gay secret for fear of backlash

Ian Johnston

Published 14/07/2014|02:30

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Olympic swimmer: Ian Thorpe. Photo: PA

Olympic swimming great Ian Thorpe hid his sexuality for years because he was unsure whether "Australia wanted its champion to be gay", he told Michael Parkinson in a television interview.

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The 31-year-old also said he had been asked about the subject when he was 16 and the lie then became "so big" it was difficult to admit.

The revelations by the five-time Olympic gold medallist, nicknamed the Thorpedo, made headlines in Australia after the interview was broadcast yesterday on Channel 10.

In a message on Twitter yesterday, Thorpe said he was grateful for the positive reaction to his announcement. "To Everyone who has sent a message of support I sincerely Thank you!" he wrote.

Comfortable

Thorpe, who had denied he was gay in his 2012 autobiography 'This Is Me', told Parkinson he had become comfortable about telling the people closest to him that he was gay only in the past two weeks.

"I've wanted to [come out] for some time, but I couldn't, I didn't feel as though I could. The problem was, I was asked at such a young age about my sexuality," he said.

"What happened was, I felt that the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity and a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn't want people to think that I had lied about everything.

"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. And I don't want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay."

He added: "A part of me didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay.

"I am telling not only Australia. I'm telling the world that I am and I hope this makes it easier for others now."

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