Ian Thorpe's massive admission about decision to come out as gay

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Ian Thorpe, pictured here reflecting on his decision to come out as gay.
Ian Thorpe has reflected on his decision to come out as gay. Image: Channel 7/Getty

Aussie swimming legend Ian Thorpe has opened up about his decision to come out as gay in 2014, revealing in an interview with Channel 7 that he wishes he'd done it sooner.

Speaking on Channel 7's reboot of 'This is Your Life' on Sunday night, Thorpe spoke in detail about his interview with Michael Parkinson eight years ago in which he revealed his sexuality to the world.

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"I was always doing this interview with Sir Michael Parkinson. I had just come out to my family and to my very very closest friends," Thorpe told host Melissa Doyle.

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

"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."

Thorpe declared in the interview at the time: "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."

Thorpe admitted he lied about his sexuality before he came out after first being asked about it when he was 16.

Ian Thorpe, pictured here on the podium with Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Ian Thorpe on the podium with Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps at the Athens Olympics in 2004. (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images)

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

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

Speaking on Sunday night, the 39-year-old admitted he wished he'd come out sooner because of the overwhelming support he received.

Fellow swimmers Michael Klim, Grant Hacket and Geoff Huegill joined the likes of Cathy Freeman, John Howard and Jimmy Barnes in paying tribute to Thorpe.

“It’s a nice thing to look back at your life and the accomplishments you have been able to achieve during that and the people you are able to share those with,” he said.

Ian Thorpe, pictured here during the Australian Open final in January.
Ian Thorpe looks on during the Australian Open final in January. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Ian Thorpe's harrowing experiences with fans

During the interview he also recalled some frightening experiences he endured with fans during the early days of his career.

“I had stalkers, there was one with a gun,” he said.

“I had to have security at my house. Things kind of changed and I was not ready for that and I don't think anyone in their early 20s could be.

”I had to learn from the police how to be able to drive a car to be able to get past a stalker or someone following me, legally.

Michael Klim, Todd Pearson, Ian Thorpe and William Kirby, pictured here at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Michael Klim, Todd Pearson, Ian Thorpe and William Kirby at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. (Photo by Jon Buckle/EMPICS via Getty Images)

“What I wanted to do was be able to train, be able to race and the other things that come along with it, I wasn't prepared for that.”

In nine years of elite swimming, Thorpe won five Olympic gold medals and set 23 world records.

He was the star of the Sydney Olympics in 2000, claiming three gold and two silver medals in front of his home crowd at the age of 17.

Last year he was elevated to 'legend' status in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

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