SYDNEY – Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe reveals he is gay in an interview set to be broadcast Sunday, according to media reports, after years of denying rumors about his sexuality.
The five-time Olympic gold medalist makes the revelation in an interview with British presenter Michael Parkinson due to be aired later Sunday by Australia’s Channel Ten, reports said.
Australia’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper said the 31-year-old also describes his years of battling with depression in the emotional interview recorded last month.
His decision to come out as gay attracted a flurry of supportive comments.
Fellow Olympic swimmer Stephanie Rice tweeted: “Thorpie is and always will be a superstar in my eyes.”
Another tweeter said: “I’m sad that there are people — not just great sports people — who feel they have to hide who they are every day. I hope Thorpie feels free.”
Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham, who revealed he was gay in 2008, said he could “totally understand how difficult this whole process has been for him.”
The swimmer — known by his nickname “Thorpedo” — retired in 2006 after a glittering career in which he ruled the pool from 1998 to 2004, taking nine Olympic medals and 11 world titles and setting 13 long course world records.
He returned to racing in 2011 but had a string of disappointing results leading up to his ultimately unsuccessful London Olympic bid the following year.
Since calling it quits for a second time in 2013, Thorpe has endured several health setbacks.
In February he began treatment for depression after a mixture of painkillers and anti-depressants left him disoriented on a Sydney street.
He was hospitalized for more than three weeks in April after battling serious infections for shoulder surgery.
Phelps tops Lochte again
Athens, Georgia — Michael Phelps won the 100-meter backstroke on Saturday at the Bulldog Grand Slam, edging Ryan Lochte in another encouraging performance in his comeback.
Phelps, who retired after the 2012 Olympics and stayed away from the pool for more than a year, finished in 53.88 seconds. Lochte was second at 54.40, and Olympian Tyler Clary finished third in 55.41.
This is the first meet for Lochte since he reinjured his surgically repaired left knee at the Mesa Grand Prix in April. He also lost to Phelps on Friday night, grabbing second in the 100 butterfly with a time of 53.08 seconds that was well off Phelps’ winning swim of 51.67.
The hastily arranged event on the University of Georgia campus gives some of the top swimmers on the East Coast a chance to swim one more time competitively before next month’s national championships in Irvine, California.
The results from nationals, as well as the Pan Pacific Championships being held in Australia later in August, will determine the U.S. team for the 2015 world championships.
Lochte gets another shot at Phelps when the two compete in the 100 freestyle on Sunday. Lochte also is scheduled for the 200 individual medley and the 200 backstroke on Sunday.
Other Olympians who were victorious Saturday included Camille Adams, who won the 200 butterfly in 2:08.45, and Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace of the Bahamas and Auburn University, who won the 50 freestyle in 24.67. Bruno Fratus of Brazil won the men’s 50 freestyle in 22.09.