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Ian Thorpe ‘retired early over his gay secret’

Ian Thorpe ‘retired early over his gay secret’

Swimming superstar Ian Thorpe retired early over the emotional burden of keeping his sexuality secret, his former teammate Grant Hackett believes.

‘I believe this was the major factor that led Ian to wrap up his career in his mid-20s,’ Hackett wrote in a blog for an online bookmaker on Friday.

‘The heights he scaled throughout his career were unprecedented, but there could have been a whole lot more to the CV of Ian Thorpe.’

Hackett, who has won three gold medals in swimming at the Olympics, said Thorpe’s coming out was not a ‘surprise to many’.

‘It would’ve been unbearable to think of the emotional burden Ian has carried over the years,’ he said.

‘I think the expectation of the public and media every time he competed, coupled with the lack of insight into dealing with his depression, and not feeling comfortable enough to open up about his sexuality, created too much of a high pressured environment.

‘Ian never said he disliked swimming – it was always the outside factors that contributed to his early retirement.’

Hackett said few people could appreciate the struggle Thorpe faced about having to lie about being gay, calling it ‘outrageous’.

The swimmer recently came out as gay in a revealing interview with Michael Parkinson.

Thorpe said the ‘lie had become so big that I didn’t want people to question my integrity’.

‘Yes, I lied about it. I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man. My parents told me that they love me and that they support me,’ he added.

‘Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But I’m telling the world that I am.’