Ian Thorpe attends the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year on December 18, 2016 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

What Is Out Aussie Olympic Swimmer Ian Thorpe Biggest Regret? Not Coming Out Sooner


Out British Olympian has a regret. "The Olympian, 41, who came out in 2014, told The Daily Telegraph on Tuesday that he kept his sexuality hidden because he didn't want any 'distractions' from his sporting career in the early 2000s," reports the Daily Mail.

The retired Aussie swimmer won five Olympic gold medals, a record number for his country that he shares with fellow swimmer Emma McKeon. At the 2000 Olympics, held in his home town of Sydney, Thorpe won three Gold and two Silver medals, which made him the most awarded athlete for those games.

"I had to swim the Olympics and had to win. I did not want anything to be a distraction for me. I don't want people talking about this," he said.

"So every time it is alluded you may be gay, you're thinking of it as a negative thing and as a young person you make it bigger than it needs to be. So I answered no."

Ian Thorpe at the 2004 Olympic Games. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

In hindsight, though, Thorpe feels those wins came with a personal cost, saying he regretted concealing his sexuality for so long because it made the process of coming out feel much more difficult.

"I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man," he told The Telegraph. "And I don't want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable, and you can be gay."

"The five-time Olympic gold medalist came out as gay during an interview with respected English television presenter Sir Michael Parkinson in July 2014," added the Daily Mail.

Thorpe appeared on the Aussie program "This Is Your Life" in 2022 and explained how he came out to host Melissa Doyle. At the time of the Parkinson interview, he had recently come out to his family and his closest friends, who were supportive.

"I had spent some time with [Sir Michael Parkinson] before the interview and told him, 'You should ask me if I'm gay because I'm going to tell you I am'."

Adding: "I needed to say it. It was the first time I felt I was comfortable enough to put myself out there. It was important for me to be my authentic self..."

At the time, he gave the decision considerable thought. "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."

Thorpe also recalled that at the start of his career – when just 16 – he was asked if he was gay and said that he didn't know. But, added, he knew he "was still gay at the end of the day.

'Yes, I lied about it. I'm now comfortable saying I'm a gay man."

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