Only 10 Openly Gay Athletes to Compete in London Olympics
The number of openly gay men and lesbians who are competing in the 2012 London Summer Olympics is similar to the number of gay athletes who participated in past games, Out Sports reported.
The website notes that 10 openly gay athletes will be part of the London Olympics, which include Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, Dutch equestrian Edward Gal, German cyclist Judith Arndt, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe and U.S. basketball player Seimone Augustus.
When the Olympics were held in Athens in 2004, it was reported that 11 athletes were openly gay and 10 were out during the 2008 Beijing Games.
Stephany Lee, a U.S. lesbian wrestler, also qualified for the Olympics but was booted from her team because she tested positive for smoking pot. Olympic officials have eliminated softball from the games but the websits suggests that the decision could have also "cut down on the number of potential out athletes." Out Sports claims that it knew of another male athlete who may have come out if he made his Olympic team but he did not make it past the trails.
Mitcham, now 24, became a national hero fro Australia in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing after he won a gold medal for a final dive at the Water Cube. In October 2008, the diving superstar said he was surprised at the small number of openly gay athletes.
"I was actually very surprised I was the only ’out’ male at the Olympic Games," Mitcham told the Sydney Morning Herald. "It’s a little bit sad, I think, because statistically there should be a lot more, but it’s each to one’s own. I’m not going to pressure anybody else to come out of the closet because it’s their own choice. I’m proud to be there ... that lots of other people can look up to."
When Mitcham competed he scored four perfect 10s on his final dive to win the 10-meter platform. He also was able to pull off the toughest dive anyone did that night, which was a backward 2 ½ somersault with 2 ½ twists.
Greg Louganis, a U.S. Olympic diver, won four gold medals during his career. The sports star also sparked some controversy, as he did not disclose that he was HIV positive during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. During an event, Louganis suffered a head injury and bled in the pool. His blood in the pool, however, "actually posed about zero risk," Wikipedia points out. Dr. John Ward, chief of HIV-AIDS surveillance at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the blood was diluted by thousands of gallons of water and "chlorine kills HIV."
Louganis told Out Sports why he believes some athletes are hesitant to step out of the closet.
"All I can do is relate to my own journey," he said. "I was out to my friends and my family. It was just my policy not to discuss my sexuality to members of the media. I wanted my participation in the sport to be about the sport. I didn’t want it to be about being the gay diver."