Nine-time Olympic swimming medalist Ian Thorpe revealed he is gay in a TV interview set to air in Australia on Sunday, according to Australian reports.
Thorpe, the most decorated Australian Olympian ever, has been asked about his sexual orientation for years, since he became the home swimming star of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“For the record, I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight,” Thorpe wrote in his 2012 autobiography, “This Is Me.”
Thorpe won nine medals over the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, retired and attempted a comeback for the 2012 Olympics, failing to make the Australian team.
The swimmer recently admitted to struggles with depression and alcohol abuse and was in rehab and a hospital earlier this year.
“I think his sexuality is no one’s business but his own,” interviewer Michael Parkinson said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “But I think it’s one of the best interviews I have ever done in terms of [Thorpe] talking about depression and things like that.”
Thorpe’s admission brings to mind Australian 2008 Olympic platform diving champion Matthew Mitcham, who is also gay.
“I can totally understand how difficult this whole process has been for him,” Mitcham said, according to the Daily Telegraph. “I really hope this process gives him some peace and that the media and the public give him the same respect and the same overwhelming support I received in 2008. The Australian public and media have a really wonderful opportunity to set an example for kids who are in Ian’s position.”
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U.S. men’s national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika‘s contract will not be renewed at the end of the year as USA Gymnastics makes changes after missing the men’s team podium at a second straight Olympics.
Mazeika was the U.S. men’s head coach at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, where the U.S. men earned team medals at a non-home Games for the first time. He then served as national team coordinator from 2009 through this year.
The U.S. men finished fifth at the last two Olympics.
USA Gymnastics will replace the national team coordinator role with a high-performance director “focused on sustained international success.”
“The coaches, committee members and staff did a thorough review of the existing structure and results, and then took a hard look at what is needed to prepare our athletes for success heading toward Tokyo and beyond,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said in a press release.
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Two-time Olympic judo champion Kayla Harrison has joined mixed martial arts promotion World Series of Fighting, which says she is moving to MMA but won’t set a debut fight for at least a year.
Harrison, 26 and all but retired from judo, has been asked time and again for years about her interest in pursuing MMA. That’s in part because of former training partner Ronda Rousey‘s overwhelming success after she switched from Olympic judo.
Harrison hasn’t responded to messages seeking comment.
Harrison will serve as a commentator and brand ambassador before getting into MMA competition. Her commentating debut will be at WSOF 34 in New York on Dec. 31 on NBC.
Earlier this month, Harrison reiterated that she had offers on the table to sign a mixed martial arts contract, with interest from at least three “big” promotion companies.
Harrison has taken boxing and jiu-jitsu lessons as far back as 2013, which should boost her MMA potential.
To compete in MMA, Harrison will require a weight cut from her Olympic judo class of 172 pounds.
Rousey competes at 135 pounds, the heaviest women’s weight class in UFC. WSOF plans to develop a women’s program as Harrison readies for her debut.
“I’m interested in MMA in an aspect where competitors are treated as competitors and not as celebrities or as showmen,” Harrison said earlier this month, while emphasizing her admiration for Rousey. “I’m not interested in being a talker or someone who is all about the show.”
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