IAN Thorpe contemplated coming out as gay prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics, but the swimming superstar decided against it because of the detrimental financial consequences suffered by a Canadian swimming star.
''I'm ashamed I didn't come out earlier because I didn't have the courage to do it,'' Thorpe told British interviewer Michael Parkinson on Sunday night. ''I wanted to make my nation proud of me. I didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. I am telling the world I am,'' he said.
In mid-2000 the late Terry Gathercole, the head of Swimming Australia, organised for Thorpe to talk to the high-profile, openly gay solicitor John Marsden.
Marsden told Fairfax Media at the time that he had organised a conference call with Canadian swimmer Mark Tewksbury, who had come out six years after he won the gold medal and broke the world record for the 100-metre backstroke at the 1992 Olympics.
Tewksbury said on Sunday that he recalled speaking to Marsden but that Thorpe's identity was not disclosed. ''I always questioned his sexuality but his name was never revealed to me,'' Tewksbury said.