Australian Olympic swimming great Ian Thorpe gave an interview to Michael Parkinson which aired on television overnight in which he confirmed speculation he is gay.
“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.
“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.”
Thorpe contemplated coming out in time for the Sydney Olympics, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, and told Parkinson he was “ashamed” he didn’t.
A meeting had been organised by the the then head of Swimming Australia, the late Terry Gathercole, between Thorpe and openly gay solicitor John Marsden.
Marsden had worked with Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury, who had come out six years after he won gold in the pool at the 1992 Olympics, but said doing so had cost him a “six-figure contract”.
Marsden said Tewksbury didn’t try to talk Thorpe out of publicly admitting he was gay; rather, he ensured Thrope knew there would be financial consequences.
Thorpe decided to postpone the announcement.
The interview also covered Thorpe’s depression, alcohol use and injuries during his career.
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