Nigel Owens, the first top rugby referee to be openly gay, asked his doctor if he could be chemically castrated.

The 45-year-old Welsh whistler, who was appearing on the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, said he "would have done anything to be 'normal' in people's eyes".

Owens - rated by many as the best referee in rugby - told his doctor: "I do not want to be gay. Can I get chemically castrated?"

Raised in the village of Carmarthenshire, Owens suffered the eating disorder bulimia and became hooked on steroids after joining a gym.

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At the age of 34, Owens told his mother, Mair, he was gay.

His father, Geraint, found the news "difficult at first".

"(but) my love for him and his love for me has not changed one bit."

Owens went public in 2007, and said the Welsh Rugby Union had given him great support.

Owens said: "Unless you are happy with who you are, you cannot excel and be the best you can be at whatever you are doing. You cannot enjoy life if you are not happy within yourself.

"Refereeing that World Cup final between Australia and New Zealand in front of 85,000 people and the millions of people watching at home, scrutinising every single decision you make under a huge amount of pressure, was nothing compared to the challenge of accepting who I was."