Ian Thorpe, Australia's most medaled Olympian, says in a new interview that he wishes he had come out gay earlier.

Thorpe, 34, came out gay in 2014 after years of denying rumors about his sexuality. He is currently in a relationship with law student and model Ryan Channing.

Thorpe was the subject of this week's Anh's Brush with Fame, an Australian television series that features comedian Anh Do, a celebrated artist, painting a portrait of his guest while interviewing him or her.

“I wish I had come out earlier,” Thorpe said. “You know I was [first] accused of being gay when … I think I was 16 at the time. But because it was kind of like I was being accused of it, I'd always thought of it as that being a bad thing. It was really hard for me to tell my closest friends and family.”

Thorpe added that he thought that passing marriage equality in Australia is “important.”

“I think it's important for it to happen now,” he said.

“I know what it was like to grow up as a young person, like a second-class citizen, feeling as though what I'm doing is wrong. That's what's implied when you don't have the same kinds of rights as other people,” Thorpe said.