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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