Ian Thorpe has opened up about the moment he first decided to speak out about his sexuality during an interview with English television presenter Sir Michael Parkinson, and how he wished had come out earlier.

The former Olympic swimmer spoke about the 2014 interview during Sunday night’s episode of This Is Your Life, telling host Melissa Doyle he was “comfortable” coming out at that moment.

“I was always doing this interview with Sir Michael Parkinson. I had just come out to my family and to my very, very closest friends,” the 39-year-old said.

“I had spent some time with [Sir Michael Parksinson] before the interview and told him, ‘You should ask me if I’m gay because I’m going to tell you I am’.”

Thorpe added that it was the first time he felt he could put himself “out there” and be his “authentic self”.

“I needed to say it,” he continued. “It was the first time I felt I was comfortable enough to put myself out there. It was important to be my authentic self.”

During the 2014 interview, he said: “I’ve thought about this for a long time. I’m not straight. And this is only something that very recently – in the past two weeks – I’ve been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that.”

Referring to the first time he was asked about his sexuality at 16 years of age, Thorpe said he didn’t know at that stage but “was still gay at the end of the day”.

“Yes I lied about it,” he said. “I’m comfortable saying I’m a gay man.”

The then-31-year-old also spoke about his fears of letting his friends, family and the country down by being open about his sexuality.

“Part of me didn’t know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay. But I’m telling the world that I am,” he said, adding that the support of his family and friends made him wish he’d come out sooner.

Image: Twitter

This article first appeared on OverSixty.