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Gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup just misses out on Olympic bid

Gay speed skater Blake Skjellerup just misses out on Olympic bid

Blake Skjellerup had been willing to risk arrest and deportation at the Sochi Winter Olympics by wearing a rainbow pin to show his support for the maligned LGBT community in Russia.

But the openly gay speed skater from New Zealand has failed in his attempt to qualify for an automatic bid for the 500-meter race.

He was painfully close missing by just one spot. In all, 32 automatic bids were handed out and Skjellerup finished 33rd, according to

But not all hope is lost.

Skjellerup is the first alternate and could still compete if one of the qualifying nations does not send a skater. They have until 10 January to notify the International Olympic Committee.

He would have been the only gay athlete at the Olympics. US figure skater Johnny Weir, who is also openly gay and a former Olympian, chose not to try and qualify and instead retired from competition.

Like Weir, Skjellerup was opposed to boycotting the Olympics despite Russia’s controversial law which makes it illegal to publicly show support of homosexuality.

‘Being in a country like Russia where they have decided to introduce these new laws basically telling children that homosexuals don’t exist, it’s a massive step backwards for the LGBT human rights movement in the world, not just for Russia,’ he said last summer.

‘Having the presence of someone like myself who is just out and who is just being myself is far more important than not being there.’