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Sled accident ruins chances for openly-gay Olympic hopeful

Katharine Swindells December 27, 2017

From @jahnfennell on Instagram

An athlete who could have been the first openly gay athlete on Team USA at the Winter Olympics has missed his chance after an equipment malfunction ruined his qualifying race.

John Fennell was in his qualifying run to decide who would be representing the USA luge team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

However partway through the runner on his sled broke, ruining his race.

The 22-year-old shared the news on Twitter.

“Heartbroken. Part of my sled broke off during my qualifying run, cutting my Olympic qualification. Seriously crushed to end like this.”

From @johncanluge on Twitter

“Sad. Just sad today. But the sun comes up and life goes on. Sled broke during my qualification run- frustrating end to a season,” he wrote on Instagram.

Fennell has dual citizenship, so has previously competed for Team Canada too.

He came out as gay after competing for Canada in the 2014 Olympics, on his 19th birthday.

From @jahnfennell on Instagram

“Being in the closet is suffocating. You have to play this game of, ‘who knows?’ You can’t let off any vibes or secrets. It’s very exhausting,” he said.

“Being in an athletic culture, there’s a certain amount of bravado you have to uphold, so it’s something I really suppressed about myself.”

However he seems to have found a reason to grin again.

From @jahnfennell on Instagram

“Sometimes you just have to find a reason smile #headinghome #calgarybound,” he posted on Instagram.

Two other openly gay athletes who are competing to represent USA are freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, and figure skater Adam Rippon, who will find out if they place in a month.

Earlier this year British gay athlete Tom Bosworth won the world record for fastest walking mile.

An athlete at the University of Nebraska went viral with a video talking about the surprise encounter he had with three American football players after he came out.

More: john fennell, Luge, olympics, Olympics, sochi, South Korea, Winter Olympics

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