A host of talented gay and lesbian athletes are set to take part at the Beijing Olympics.
Diver Matthew Mitcham, 20, is representing Australia in the men’s 3 metre springboard competition on 18th August, and the men’s 10 metre platform on 22nd August.
Mitcham caused a stir recently when he came out in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald at the end of May.
The diving star is the first out Australian to compete in the Olympic games.
Mitcham is not the only gay in the Olympic village.
Natasha Kai, a forward on the U.S.A Women’s football team, is an out lesbian. Kai, 25, joined the team in 2006.
Hawaiin-born Kai first began playing football at the age of 7.
Whilst at the University of Hawaii, Kai was awarded Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year three times.
Kai is the first woman from Hawaii to make the U.S.A Women’s National Team.
Other lesbians at the games include Imke Duplitze, Olympic Fencing silver medalist, and German cyclist Judith Arndt.
Arndt returns to the Olympics this year having won Bronze in the 1996 competition, and Silver in 2004, as well as the World Road Race Championship.
Arndt is also famed for her angry outburst at the 2004 Olympics, brought on by the cutting of her partner and team mate Petra Rossner from the team.
Both athletes were named Gay Games Ambassadors in 2005
Further out lesbians at the games are Lauren Lappin and Vicky Galindo of the U.S.A Women’s Softball team, Victoria Svensson of the Swedish football team, Linda Bresonik of the German football team, and Rennae Stubbs, representing Australia in tennis.
Stubbs has been outspoken on coming out as an athlete.
In 2006 she told Australian newspaper The Age:
‘I always say to my friends, “Wouldn’t it be great if everybody who was gay said they were?”
‘If we said February 21, or whatever, this is the coming out day.
‘So, if you are, you have to come out to everybody you know.
‘It would be phenomenal.
‘And it would be nice if everybody could just accept that it’s not a choice, this is who you are.
‘I don’t hide who I am any more.
‘Everyone in the tennis world pretty much knows who’s gay and who’s not.
‘The only reason I would like it spoken about publicly more is that I wish everybody would realise that, “See all those people you admire? Out of 10 of them, four are gay, and I just want you to know that your child can still idolise them.’
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Some teams even contain some gay couples.
Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg of Norway’s handball team are in a long-term lesbian relationship.
Hammerseng, captain of the team, also plays for Danish handball club Ikast-Bording.
Hammerseng has led Norway to victory. The team were European Women’s Handball Champions in 2004 and 2006.
Hammerseng was voted the tournament’s most valuable player during both competitions.
Katja Nyberg has had an equally successful sporting career so far, having also played for Finland at international level.
Nyberg has a long career of club handball, having played alongside her partner at Ikast-Bording, as well as Stockholmspolisens IF, Larvik and Slovenian team Krim Ljubljana.
Nyberg was voted most valuable player at the 2007 World Women’s Handball Championship.
The line-up of out gay sports stars at Beijing this year ensures that young gay athletes have plenty to watch this August.