dark side of the pool

Out Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe shares dark story of armed stalkers and damn

Ian Thorpe, swimmer, gay, Olympian, This is Your Life, australia, coming out, gay, interview
Ian Thorpe, nine-time Olympic medalist

Ian Thorpe, the gay Australian swimmer and Olympic medalist who publicly came out in 2014, has revealed that he had stalkers who made him fear for his life after he became famous.

At the age of 21, Thorpe won four medals and gained lots of international attention during the 2004 Athens Summer Games because of his much-hyped in-pool rivalry against American swimmer Michael Phelps. Thorpe became widely known by his nickname, “the Thorepedo,” because of his underwater speed.

However, Thorpe revealed that his newfound fame came with unexpected downsides, including stalkers.

“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,” he said in a recent interview with the Australian TV program This is Your Life. The show recounts celebrities’ lives, using interviews with close friends and families.

“And I had stalkers,” Thorpe continued. “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.”

In addition to the stalkers, Thorpe said that swimming altogether changed for him after 2004. It began feeling more like a career where he was expected to do more than just train and race in the pool, he said. He retired from swimming in 2006. He unsuccessfully tried to mount a comeback in 2012, but a shoulder injury made him unable to continue competing.

Thorpe, who is now 39 years old, also gained notoriety at the age of 17 when he won five Olympic gold medals at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Soon after, interviewers began asking him about his sexuality. He felt compelled to deny it for years.

“I knew that I was struggling with mental health issues before I knew what my sexuality was. I knew I was struggling,” he told Olympics.com. “I wish I had more time to accept my sexuality within my career, and I didn’t.”

“There’s part of me that regrets that,” he continued, “but given the circumstances, it was so complicated that I didn’t know what to do. I was a teenager the first time I was asked if I was gay, which is not an appropriate question for anyone to ask anyone at that age, if at all.”

Thorpe also said that he disagreed with Olympic rules forbidding athletes from showing their support of socio-political issues during the world sporting event.