Ian Thorpe has revealed he is gay in an emotional interview with Michael Parkinson for Australian television.
The former Olympic champion broke his silence on his sexuality, after his host asked him, "You've always said that you're not gay... is all of that true?"
Ian Thorpe waited for a moment to find the right words, before saying, "I've thought about this for a long time... I'm not straight. And this is only something that very recently, we're talking in the past two weeks, I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that."
He also told Michael that he has wanted to come out for a long time, but "didn't feel like I could".
"What happened was I felt the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity," he explained.
"And, you know, a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn't want people to question that... have I lied about everything?"
"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. And I don't want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.
"I was concerned about the reaction from my family, my friends. I'm pleased to say that in telling them, and especially my parents, they told me that they love me and they support me.
"And for young people out there, know that that's usually what the answer is."
Thorpie has already received a wave of support from fans and fellow swimmers for his coming out, with many sending him their good wishes on Twitter. The goodwill towards him has been so extensive that #onyathorpie was trending on Twitter, before the interview was even broadcast.
It comes only two years after he denied he was gay in his autobiography, saying that all his sexual experiences had been straight, and that he was hurt by the rumours which seemed to attack his integrity.
He wrote then, "I know what it’s like to grow up and be told what your sexuality is, then realising that it’s not the full reality. I was accused of being gay before I knew who I was."
Now he's out, and fellow Australian Olympian Matthew Mitcham has told Australian's Sunday 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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