Two-time U.S. Olympian Nick Symmonds not only won a silver medal in the 800 meter race last week at the IAFF World Athletics Championships in Moscow, but he decided todedicate his medal to his gay and lesbian friends.
The Olympian became the first to “to openly criticize Russia’s controversial anti-gay law on the country’s soil.”
Russia’s anti-gay laws, prohibiting “homosexual propaganda,” have been causing a lot of controversy considering the country is hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Even president Obama is upset with Russia’s laws, but thinks it’s unfair to boycott the Olympics.
“We’ve got a bunch of Americans that are training hard, who are doing everything they can to succeed,” he said. “Nobody’s more offended than me by some of the anti-gay and -lesbian legislation that we’ve been seeing in Russia
Symmonds said he would do all he could for the LGBT community short of getting arrested.
“As much as I can speak out about it, I believe that all humans deserve equality as however God made them,” Symmonds said. “Whether you’re gay, straight, black, white, we all deserve the same rights. If there’s anything I can do to champion the cause and further it, I will, shy of getting arrested.”
Symmonds seems to be true to his word. While he wanted to wear a rainbow flag during his race, the Russian government made it clear they would throw him in jail.
“I’m trying to tread that fine line of being respectful as a guest in this country and also speaking against some serious injustices that I see,” he said. “As adamant as I am about this issue, I don’t know what me sitting in jail is good for.”
Symmonds will stay civil during his races, but as he explained in a column for Runner’s World, his gay and lesbian friends will stay in his heart.
“I will say now what I said before the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, when people asked me how I felt competing in a foreign country with questionable human rights standards: The playing field is not a place for politics. In a world rife with never-ending political battles, let the playing field be where we set aside our differences and compete for national pride and the love of sport.
“If I am placed in a race with a Russian athlete, I will shake his hand, thank him for his country’s generous hospitality, and then, after kicking his ass in the race, silently dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home. Upon my return, I will then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union.”
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