Aussie freestyle swimmer Ian Thorpe says he’s known about persistent rumours that he’s gay for a long time – and being asked about his sexuality gets annoying.
Following his unsuccessful bid for the London Olympics and a difficult year for his various business interests, the five-gold-medal winner has opened up to the ABC for a new doco to be screened this weekend.
“I was down,” he says of recent months. “I call it the dark times.”
When asked about rumours around his personal life, Thorpe said he realized at age 15 that gay men found him attractive.
“Being asked about it gets annoying,” he added. “I think people feel threatened by me because they can’t define exactly what I am.”
When asked directly about his sexual preference the swimmer’s response was concise: “Women.”
Those gay rumours have certainly been intense for the 29-year-old sports star. Whenever he’s on the news, people Googling ‘Ian Thorpe gay’ get them to this SameSame.com.au page which has now had over 100,000 views.
As far back as 2007, Thorpe had said: “I don’t have a problem with being a gay icon. It’s not a big deal to me. But I think the gay speculation, along with when I was accused of taking drugs in 2000, was an attempt to pull me down from the top.
“Some people think it’s an insult to say, ‘Oh I think he’s gay’, but I don’t take it that way. I’m not gay. I’m lucky that within myself I don’t care enough to get worried or upset over it.”
The ABC’s new doco Ian Thorpe: The Swimmer airs at 7:30pm on Sunday 15 July on ABC1. The trailer is below.