Thorpedo Insists his Missile Flies Straight
Australian swimming sensation Ian Thorpe has found himself on the defensive following renewed speculation that it's guys who float his boat.
Thorpe was caught frolicking in the Brazilian surf with long-time housemate and fellow swimmer Daniel Mendes. The two had flown to join Mendes' family for the holidays after first celebrating them with Thorpe's back home in Oz.
But Thorpe says he pays no attention to the Brazilian hottie; they're just "mates". Who live together... and travel together...and spend time with each other's families...and attend functions together (like the 2008 MTV Movie Awards).
And just because Thorpe surprised fans a few months ago by proclaiming he was "in love" with someone who doesn't live in Australia doesn't mean it's Mendes. (But it does beg the question...then who? And how does he have time for "her" if he's always with his mate?)
Thorpe has issued a statement hoping to quell the speculation, saying he draws the line when rumors involve friends and family: "Over the last few days there have been a series of press articles published speculating about my friendship with Daniel Mendes. I am still friends with many of the people I competed and trained with during my swimming career. Daniel is one such good friend whom I have known for many years."
He goes on to mention that he's addressed the issue of his sexuality before, in a very open way. In 2007 he told Good Weekend Magazine that he's comfortable being a gay icon: "It's not a big deal to me. But I think the gay speculation, along with when I was accused of taking drugs in 2000, was an attempt to pull me down from the top."
"Some people think it's an insult to say, 'Oh, I think he's gay', but I don't take it that way. I'm not gay. I'm lucky that within myself I don't care enough to get worried or upset over it."
With his glory days behind him, I'm not sure the question of Thorpe's sexuality holds the cache it once did. Besides, the Aussies seem to have cornered the "are they or aren't they" market: Hugh Jackman, Guy Pearce, Olivia Newton-John, even the late Heath Ledger (following "Brokeback Mountain"). So maybe it's just a down-under thang. The bigger winner in all this could be Mendes...if he plays his cards right. He looks like quite the hottie, and he could stick a shrimp on my barbie anytime.
(Images courtesy of Getty)