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.”