On Valentine’s Day, the romance between ex-Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe and model/legal student Ryan Channing was confirmed by a mutual friend of the pair.
“While it is early days in relationship terms, they are smitten with one another,” the source told The Courier Mail.
“Over the last few weeks Ian and Ryan have been inseparable. They have been going out in public together and meeting one another’s friends, they seem really happy," the insider added.
But close friends to the 33-year-old have since revealed their concerns to the Daily Telegraph, saying they're worried he'll just end up back in the dating pool with his heart broken.
“Thorpie is a bit naive and Sydney’s gay scene is certainly not for the faint-hearted,” says one friend.
“Ian is old enough to make his own decisions and those closest to him absolutely support his lifestyle. We love him,” the friend adds. “We just know that some people will see him as, well, a different sort of conquest.
“For now he’s very happy and his happiness is paramount. We just hope he gets as much out of this as Ryan does.”
Ian and Ryan, 26, have been spotted on several occasions in the last few weeks. On Valentine’s Day they were sighted enjoying a sun-drenched date on a luxury cruise on Sydney Harbour, and more recently, the pair were seen getting cosy at a Sydney pool.
This is first relationship for Ian since he came out during an exclusive interview with Sir Michael Parkinson in July 2014.
After years of denial, depression and hiding his true self from the world, he confessed, “I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. And I don't want people to feel the same way I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable and you can be gay.”
“I am telling the world that I am gay … and I hope this makes it easier for others now, and even if you've held it in for years, it feels easier to get it out.”