Olympian Ian Thorpe says he's "ashamed" he didn't come out gay sooner.

After years of denials, Thorpe, Australia's most decorated Olympian, acknowledged he's gay in July, saying he lied because he “didn't know if Australia wanted its champion to be gay.”

(Related: Ian Thorpe comes out gay: “I'm not straight”)

GQ named Thorpe their Man of Influence for 2014

“I'm a little bit ashamed that I didn't come out earlier, that I didn't have the strength to do it,” Thorpe told the men's fashion glossy. “I didn't have the courage to do it, to break that lie.”

He called being a role model to young people “strange.”

“The thought that young people are looking up to me, watching what I do and say closely, has always been strange for me,” he said. “I've never really considered myself a role model, and at times I've made the wrong decisions, but I guess it's comforting and flattering to know people can.”