Sports Shorts: Olympic champion Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay
Ian Thorpe, Australia's most decorated Olympian, revealed he is gay in an emotional television interview on Sunday, ending years of speculation about the champion swimmer's sexuality.
The five-times Olympic gold medallist made the admission to British journalist Michael Parkinson in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on Australia's Channel 10.
"I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight," Thorpe said, struggling to hold tears back.
"And this is only something that very recently, we're talking the past two weeks, I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me, exactly that.
"I've wanted to (come out) for some time but I couldn't, I didn't feel as though I could.
"What happened was I felt the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity."
Thorpe had long denied he was gay and wrote in his 2012 autobiography This Is Me that he was heterosexual.
'For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight,' Thorpe wrote in the book. 'I'm attracted to women, I love children and aspire to have a family one day.
'I know what it's like to grow up and be told what your sexuality is, then realising that it's not the full reality. I was accused of being gay before I knew who I was.'
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Image: Ian Thorpe
'Part of me didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay'
Thorpe said constant questions about his sexuality, starting from the age of 16, had contributed to guarding his personal life. He had also been discouraged by homophobic taunts from the public.
However, he admitted a big part of his reticence was that he was troubled that revealing he was gay would not fit into his image as "Australia's champion".
"I was trying to be what I thought was the right athlete by other people's standards. I wanted to make my family proud, I wanted to make my nation proud," he said.
"Part of me didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay.
"I hope it makes this easier for others now. Even if you hold it in for years, it feels better to lift this and get out.
"People will criticise me, some people won't like the idea, other people may applaud me for it, but it's me."
Thorpe has had a torrid past 12 months, battling depression, a stint in rehab and an infection he contracted following shoulder surgery that required treatment in hospital in April.
At the time, his agent said he was unlikely to swim competitively again. Thorpe said that his shoulder was still "broken" and that his swimming career remained in doubt.
"I had a tremendous reality check... that I have to be realistic with my expectations... that I may never swim again," he said.
"It's tough because I want to be able to swim again."
Earlier this year, he was admitted to hospital to treat depression after he was found disoriented in Sydney.
- NEXT: Phelps wins 100m backstroke as comeback continues...
Image: Ian Thorpe
Photographs: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Phelps wins 100m backstroke as comeback continues
Michael Phelps notched another impressive performance in his comeback when he won the 100 metres backstroke and beat American rival Ryan Lochte for the second successive night in Athens, Georgia, on Saturday.
Phelps clocked 53.88 seconds, less than a second outside his personal best, while Lochte was a distant runnerup in 54.40.
On Friday, Phelps won the 100m butterfly in 51.67 seconds, the third fastest time in the world this year.
The winner of a record 18 Olympic gold medals, Phelps announced a comeback in April after retiring following the 2012 London Olympics.
The 'Bulldog Grand Slam' finishes on Sunday, when Phelps is scheduled to swim the 100m freestyle as he tunes up for the Aug. 6-10 US Championships in Irvine, California ahead of the Pan Pacific Championships on the Gold Coast in Australia.
Image: Michael Phelps