Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe has spoken about how he was once hounded by stalkers, including one armed with a gun, at the height of his pro swimming career.
The 39-year-old appeared on Channel 7’s reboot of This is Your Life on Sunday night.
Thorpe told host Mel Doyle about how his life changed once he became a professional swimmer, and the downsides of becoming a household name.
“My goal was to be an Olympian. My dream, which is very different, was to be an Olympic champion,” he said.
“So, I accomplished that at the Sydney Olympics. Then I started swimming again and what swimming had become was completely different.
“It had become more of a career where I had responsibilities outside of the pool.
“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.
He continued, “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.
“And I had stalkers, there was one with a gun. 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 twenties could be.”
‘I needed to say it’
The Channel Seven program brought together Ian Thorpe’s Sydney Olympic peers, teammates, coaches and opponents for the retrospective.
Thorpe also discussed the behind the scenes of his 2014 interview in which he came out as gay to Sir Michael Parkinson.
He decided to address his sexuality at that time because he was “comfortable” with himself for the first time.
“I was always doing this interview with Sir Michael Parkinson,” he said.
“I had just come out to my family and to my very very closest friends.
“I’d spent some time with [Parkinson] 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.”
Ian Thorpe joined Sport Australia’s Hall of Fame
Last November, Ian Thorpe received Sport Australia’s top honour – “Legend” status – in its prestigious Hall of Fame.
Sport Australia describes the designation as “the pinnacle of sporting honours” for an Aussie athlete.
The honour is for “greats who’ve distinguished themselves at the absolute highest level and whose achievements are part of Australian folklore.”
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.