AUSTRALIAN SWIMMING LEGEND Ian Thorpe has revealed he battled through depression and a problem with alcohol for much of his career.
Thorpe, who turns 30 today, won five Olympic gold medals in a stellar career but writes in his autobiography that his illness got so bad at various stages that he thought about suicide.
He also reveals that he secretly turned to alcohol as a means of escape.
“It was the only way I could get to sleep, but it didn’t happen every night,” he said.
“However, there were numerous occasions, particularly between 2002 and 2004 as I trained to defend my Olympic titles in Athens, that I abused myself this way – always alone and in a mist of disgrace.
“I even considered specific places or a specific way to kill myself – but then always baulked, realising how ridiculous it was. Could I have killed myself? Looking back, I don’t think so but there were days in my life that even now make me shudder.”
The man known as the ‘Thorpedo’ during his career says that nobody has ever been aware of his private struggles, even his parents.
“Not even my family is aware that I’ve spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as a crippling depression,” he wrote.
“Now I realise it’s time to be open and I need to talk to them about it.”
Thorpe retired from swimming in 2006 at the age of 24, but reversed that decision earlier this year when he attempted to qualify for the London Olympics. However, he was unable to make the grade at the Australian trials and took a punditry role instead.