Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe has confirmed he is gay, in an interview that will be broadcast on Australian television Sunday night.
There has been speculation about Thorpe’s sexuality for years, and in his 2012 autobiography, This Is Me, he denied being gay and called the rumors hurtful. But now the Aussie athlete is coming out in an interview on Sir Michael Parkinson’s program on Australia’s Channel Ten, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“Ian Thorpe has always been near the top of my list to interview,” Parkinson said, according to the Herald. “The reasons are obvious. Not many athletes can claim to be the best of all time. Ian can.”
Also, Australia’s Telegraph quoted Parkinson as saying, “I think his sexuality is no one’s business but his own. 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, now 31, won five gold medals, three silver, and one bronze over the course of the 2000 and 2004 Olympics. He has also broken 22 world records. But he has struggled with depression and substance abuse, and he recently completed a stay in a rehabilitation facility.
Out Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham, a fellow Austalian, expressed support for Thorpe and said he hope the public would do so as well, the Telegraph reports. “I can totally understand how difficult this whole process has been for him,” Mitcham said. “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.”