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Winter Olympics 2018: Adam Rippon holds back tears as he hails the ‘overwhelming’ support he’s received

Josh Jackman February 13, 2018
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Adam Rippon has emotionally paid tribute to the “overwhelming” support he’s received as one of the first openly gay men to compete at the Winter Olympics.

The 28-year-old figure skater won a bronze medal yesterday on his debut appearance at the Pyeongchang Games.

His medal-winning performance came in the same team event in which Eric Radford became the first ever openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Bronze medalists Adam Rippon (L) and Mirai Nagasu of Team United States celebrate during the victory ceremony after the Figure Skating Team Event at Medal Plaza on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
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And Rippon said that it was a huge privilege to represent LGBT people in this way.

“Being here at the Olympics does give me a louder voice,” said the skater. “It has given me a platform. It’s given me a voice to reach to young kids.

“I’ve gotten so many messages I could even get emotional thinking about it… I’ve gotten so many messages from young kids all over the country that my story’s resonated with them.

USA's Adam Rippon reacts after finishing his routine in the figure skating team event men's single skating free skating during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Roberto SCHMIDT (Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images)
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“It’s incredibly powerful this platform that you can have at the Olympic Games.”

He added after the news conference that he has started responding to an email from an 18-year-old outside Detroit who had written to Rippon to tell him the skater had given him hope.

“I really want to take my time with this,” Rippon said.

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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And he refused to stop speaking out in support of LGBT rights, especially as he now has countless children and young adults looking up to him.

“In the past week, in addition to all the support I’ve gotten, I’ve heard a lot of people say, Adam Rippon should tone it down, and blah blah blah,” he said.

“I can’t. I can’t tone it down.

Adam Rippon celebrates after competing in the Figure Skating Team Event Men's Single Free Skating (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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“I’m being me and I’m being myself and I’d be doing myself an injustice and I’d be doing an injustice to those kids who don’t feel like they’re comfortable to be themselves.”

PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: United States Figure Skater Adam Rippon speaks during a press conference at the Main Press Centre on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The Team USA athlete said before the Games he would refuse to meet Vice President Mike Pence, who’s leading the US delegation in South Korea, due to Pence’s opposition to LGBT rights.

Following his medal-winning performance yesterday, Rippon appeared to have changed his mind, saying: “Yes of course” when asked if he would accept a meeting with the Vice President.

However, this morning, he backed up the remarks he made before the Olympics, according to USA Today.

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

“When we did the interview for USA TODAY, you asked me a really simple question and I gave you a really simple answer,” he said.

“I have no problem talking about what I’ve said because I stand by it.”

But Rippon added: “I don’t want my Olympic experience to be about Mike Pence.”

More: adam rippon, entertainment, figure skating, Gay, Mike Pence, pyeongchang, South Korea, sport, US, US, winter olympics 2018

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