In a tell-all interview with Sir Michael Parkinson, Ian Thorpe apparently doesn’t leave anything out – including questions about his sexuality.
Channel Ten says Thorpe agreed that nothing should be off-limits for the television interview, which will explore his career successes as well as the hard times the famous swimmer has endured.
Parkinson said in a statement from the Ten network that it’s an interview he’s been looking forward to doing for quite some time.
“Ian Thorpe has always been near the top of my list to interview. The reasons are obvious. Not many athletes can claim to be the best of all time. Ian can,” says the renowned British journalist.
“What fascinates me most about Ian is that, apart from the very beginning of his career, he never seemed to enjoy and celebrate his success.
“The story of a boy who was a teenage world champion, conquered the world and then seemed to give it all away is a fascinating and intriguing one.”
There will certainly be plenty for the pair to talk about: before he retired for the first time at the age of 24, Thorpe (or Thorpedo, as he was often called) broke 22 world records and won five gold and three silver medals and one bronze medal at Olympic Games.
He also won 10 gold medals and one silver medal at Commonwealth Games as well as 11 World Championship titles.
However, his comeback in 2011 wasn’t a success and he failed to make the Australian Olympic team for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
A shoulder injury dashed hopes of making either the 2013 World Championships or this year’s Commonwealth Games.
Athletics career aside, the record breaking swimmer has dealt with persistent rumours about his sexuality since before the Sydney Olympic Games.
This is despite the fact that he’s publically denied the rumours in the past: speculation was he did not want to risk lucrative sponsorship deals by coming out when he was competing.
Thorpe also talks about his battle with depression.
Parkinson says: “His fight against depression offers a unique insight into the darker side of celebrity and success.”
Thorpe was admitted to a clinic this year for treatment for depression.
Thorpe’s manager, James Erskine (who also happens to be Parkinson’s manager), said tabloid media reports claiming he went to rehab for alcohol abuse were partially to blame.
“There is no doubt about it, the false reports did upset him. I’m not saying it sent him in a downward spiral but it did upset him. He didn’t go to rehab. That’s the truth. Everyone has to give him some space,” Erskine told Fairfax.
In his 2012 biography This is Me the 31-year-old wrote about his battle with depression, and his manager said it’s “an awful thing to have.”
Erskine said: “He has got to get better and he is going to need outside help. He has got to confront the problems and get better.”
Despite his private battles since retiring from swimming, Thorpe has enjoyed success as a sports commentator and worked for the BBC during the London Olympic Games.
Following that success he’ll be one of Channel Ten’s star commentators for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games this year.
Ian Thorpe’s interview will be broadcast by Channel Ten on Sunday July 13.
This article first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald on 7 July, 2014.