Ian Thorpe thanks fans after outpouring of support over gay revelation

Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe has thanked fans and supporters after he announced he is gay. The Australian sports star came out during a television interview with Sir Michael Parkinson after having long faced questions about his sexual orientation. After receiving a groundswell of support on Twitter, the athlete - known as the Thorpedo - said today: “To everyone who has sent a message of support I sincerely thank you!”

Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But I’m telling the world that I am.

Ian Thorpe in interview with Sir Michael Parkinson

The five-time Olympic gold medal winner had previously denied he was gay and wrote in his 2012 autobiography ‘This Is Me’ that he was heterosexual. But speaking to Parkinson in a televised interview on Australia’s Channel 10, Thorpe said he did not want young people to feel the same way he had and admitted the “lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity”. He added: “I’ve thought about this for a long time. I’m not straight.” Football pundit Gary Lineker described his decision as “brave”. The former England striker, who presented BBC coverage of the 2012 Olympics with Thorpe, tweeted: “Well done @IanThorpe on your ‘coming out’. Look, mate, it was a brave and right decision. Good luck to you.”