Out gay American figure skater, Adam Rippon has become the first openly gay man to qualify for the Olympics.
Rippon was on Sunday named as one of three male figure skaters who will skate for the US at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
As well as being the first out gay man to compete for the US in the Winter Olympics, he will also be the oldest American figure skater since 1936.
“I think in this day and age, it’s so important for you to be proud of who you are,” Rippon told reporters last week.
“I can’t believe I am where I am today. I was just a little gay kid in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. Growing up I didn’t have a lot of role models. I said if I was ever given a platform and had a chance I would share my story.”
Rippon almost wasn’t selected for the Olympic team.
On Thursday he was in second place in the US Figure Skating Championships but on Saturday he dropped to fourth place after falling in an opening quad jump in his free skate.
But the committee who selected Rippon chose him over Ross Miner, who placed second, because of their track records.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon said of his selection.
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“. . . I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that.”
Rippon has attempted to represent the US three times at the Olympics, placing fifth in nationals in 2010 and eighth in 2014.
According to reports, Rippon had considered leaving the sport behind after the 2014 result.
The champion spoke about his sexuality in Skating magazine – in which he tackled head-on the stereotypes of the sport.
He said: “Being gay is not something that defines me. What defines me is what my mom always taught me: to treat everyone with respect, to always be a hard worker and to be kind.”
“It’s the year 2015. So many more athletes are willing to be open, and it’s part of the culture now to be more open about who you are and what your interests are.
“Of course people are interested in your sexual orientation. People love rumors. When athletes come out and say that they’re gay, it makes it a little more normal and less of a big deal — especially in the athletic community.
“You have a lot of respect for your fellow athletes for working hard toward a goal. Their sexual orientation takes a backseat to that.”