Ian Thorpe: 'I'm telling the world I'm gay'

Former Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has revealed to Sir Michael Parkinson that he is gay.

Former Olympic champion Ian Thorpe has said that he is now comfortable telling people that he is a gay man.

In an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson on Australia's Channel 10, Thorpe admitted for the first time that he is gay.

"I was 16 [when I was first asked about it]," Thorpe said. "I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight.

"And this is only something that very recently - in the past two weeks - I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that. I don't want young people to feel the same way I did. I've wanted to for some time. I couldn't, I didn't feel as though I could.

"The problem was I was asked at such a young age about my sexuality. I went to an all-boys school, so if you're accused of being gay then the first answer is no and you get ready for a fight. I didn't know at the stage, I was too young.

"I carried this. I thought that the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity. A little bit of ego comes into this. I didn't want people to question whether I'd lied about everything. Yes, I lied about it. I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. My parents told me that they love me and that they support me.

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

The 31-year-old has won five Olympic gold medals and was the youngest athlete to ever perform for Australia when he competed as a 14-year-old at the 1998 Perth World Championships.

Ian Thorpe arrives at Crown's IMG Tennis Player's Party at Crown Towers on January 13, 2013
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Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay
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