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Meet the LGBTI athletes competing at the Winter Olympics 2018

Meet the athletes flying the rainbow flag in Korea at the Winter Olympics

Meet the LGBTI athletes competing at the Winter Olympics 2018
Gus Kenworthy will fly the rainbow flag in Korea at the Winter Olympics

Only 0.3% of the athletes at the Winter Olympics identify as gay or bisexual.

Out of the 2,952 Olympians competing in PyeongChang, Korea, there are only nine who will be flying the rainbow flag.

Four years ago, in homophobic Russia, there were six openly gay or bi athletes.

In Rio, there was a record 53 openly LGBTI athletes, comprising of 11 men and 42 women.

Of those 53, 19 of them won a medal solo or in a group.

But will coming out mean medal success for these athletes?

Gus Kenworthy – United States (Freestyle Skier)

Gus Kenworthy Naked In ESPN Body IssueESPN

Someone teach us how to Ski already

While this may be Gus Kenworthy’s second Olympics, it will be his first as being an openly gay athlete.

Winning a silver medal in Sochi, he said he felt ‘horrible’ about being closeted at the Russian Games.

He came out in 2015, and has become a high profile star.

‘Very proud to be heading to Korea on behalf of my family, my hometown, the USA and the LGBTQ community!!! Woohoo!!!’ he said.

He has already confirmed that he will not accept a White House invitation from Donald Trump.

Adam Rippon – United States  (Figure Skater)

Adam Rippon will compete on Team USAInstagram/Adam Rippon

Adam Rippon will compete on Team USA

Adam Rippon, who was the US national champion in 2016, will be making his Olympic debut in Korea.

‘I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be unabashedly myself,’ he said, according to the Washington Post.

‘I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves to know that it’s OK.’

He has also been asked on what it is like to be a gay man in sports.

‘And I said it’s exactly like being a straight athlete,’ Rippon said. ‘Only with better eyebrows.’

Daniela Iraschko- Stolz – Austria (Ski Jumper)

Daniela Iraschko- Stolz (left) marrying her wife

Ski jumper Daniela Iraschko- Stolz returns for her second Olympic Games.

Winning silver in Sochi, she married her partner Isabel in 2013 and came out publicly before Sochi.

‘I don’t want to hide myself,’ she said. ‘I never cared at all what other people think about me.’

Eric Radford – Canada (Figure Skater)

Eric Radford prepares for Winter Olympics

Eric Radford prepares for Winter Olympics

Eric Radford is another second-time Olympian, but like Kenworthy will be his first as an openly gay athlete.

In late 2014, when he came out, he became the first international-level figure skater to come out publicly while still competing.

After winning silver, a Canadian reporter asked him who was in Sochi to support him.

Radford replied: ‘Oh my family, some friends, and my boyfriend.’

His fiance is Luis Fenero, also a competitive ice dancer.

Cheryl Maas – Netherlands (Halfpipe Snowboarder)

Cheryl Maas is a two-time world champion snowboarder

Cheryl Maas is a two-time world champion snowboarder

Cheryl Maas is at her third Winter Olympics competing for the Netherlands.

The two-time world champion is married to former snowboarder Stine Brun Kjedlaas. The couple have two children together.

While many athletes were against the idea of promoting gay rights at Sochi, Maas decided to do something different.

She decided to hold a middle finger up to Russia’s gay propaganda law and wear rainbow gloves during the competition.

Ireen Wüst – Netherlands (Speed Skater)

Ireen Wust competing at the Winter Olympics

Ireen Wust competing at the Winter Olympics

 

Ireen Wüst is at her fourth Olympic Games. The openly bisexual skater competed and medaled in Turin, Vancouver and Sochi.

She won a gold medal in Sochi and is expected to medal again.

Wüst is also notable for having received a ‘cuddle’ from President Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Her partner, Letitia de Jong, is also a competitive speed skater.

Belle Brockhoff – Australia (Snowboard Cross)

Belle Brockhoff came out as gay prior to Sochi in protest of Russia’s anti-gay laws.

‘I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I’ve done to get into the Olympics and not have to deal with this law,’ Brockhoff said.

Commentators are calling her a ‘major contender’ to medal in Korea, despite her recent knee injury.

“I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I’ve done to get into the Olympics and not have to deal with this law,” Brockhoff said.

Barbara Jezeršek – Australia (Cross-country Skiing)

Barbara Jezeršek will be competing for Australia instead of Slovenia

Barbara Jezeršek will be competing for Australia instead of Slovenia

Barbara Jezeršek will compete at her third Olympics this year.

While she competed at Vancouver and Sochi for her native Slovenia, she became an Australian citizen after moving to the country in 2016.

Jorik Hendrickx – Belgium (Figure Skater)

Jorik Hendrickx did not feel ready to come out before competing in Sochi four years ago.

‘I was not ready to talk about my homosexuality,’ he told Zizo last week, in a coming out article.

‘I focused on the sport.’

He said while he may not choose places like Russia as a holiday, skating is all that matters.

Sophie Vercruyssen – Belgium (Bobsleigh)

Sophie Vercruyssen (right) with partner Lori Simons (left)

Sophie Vercruyssen (right) with partner Lori Simons (left) (Photo: @sophievercruyssen | Instagram)

Sophie Vercruyssen posted an anniversary message to her partner, Lore Simons on Instagram on the opening day of the games. The 25-year-old is currently in PyeongChang, South Korea competing in the Winter Olympics as part of the Belgium bobsleigh team. The couple have been together for five years.

Simona Meiler – Switzerland (Snowboarding)

Simona Meiler

Simona Meiler (@simonameiler | Instagram)

This is Meiler’s third Olympic Games. She has been open with her views on LGBTI athletes coming out, telling Outsports that she believes being openly gay has taken some of the stress away from competing, ‘[Athletes] have to be ready to give everything and perform wholeheartedly, and in my eyes that’s only possible if they can accept and express their sexuality.’

Emilia Andersson Ramboldt – Sweden (Ice hockey)

This is Ramboldt’s third time at the Olympics. She is a defender on Sweden’s ice hockey team and married her wife, Anna Ramboldt in 2015.

Brittany Bowe – USA (Speed skating)

Although she did not win a medal, Bowe is another openly gay athlete who competed in the 2014 Sochi games. She is dating Dutch speedster Manon Kamminga and says, ‘It’s nice being with somebody that has the same passion, same drive, same goals.’

Sarka Pancochova – Czech Republic (Snowboarding)

Pancochova publicly came out in an interview with Outsports back in 2017. Although this is her third Olympics, it is her first as an openly LGBTI athlete. In her interview with Gretchen Pleshaw she shared how ‘stoked’ she was to be coming out and encouraged other bisexual, lesbian and transgender athletes to be their ‘true selves.’


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