Record Number of Out Olympians to Participate in 2016 Olympics
Post submitted with contributions from Katherine Burns
Ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio, HRC is proud to support out athletes competing in the games. While many athletes continue to face discrimination in their sports, several have chosen to speak out proudly about who they are, both on and off the field of competition. According to sources, including Out Sports, there are at least 41 openly lesbian, gay and bisexual Olympians to watch in Rio:
Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, Finland, Swimming
Luikkonen holds the Finnish record for the 50 meter freestyle and attended the 2012 Olympics in London. He came out as gay before the Sochi Olympics in 2014 to help draw attention to the horrific conditions the LGBTQ community faces in Russia. “This has been a long, slow process for me, but now I’m there…[and] it’s a really great feeling that I can finally be myself,” Liukkonen told YLE.
Carl Hester, Great Britain, Equestrian
Rio will be Hester’s fifth Olympic Games. He has competed in the individual and group dressage events and took home the gold medal in 2012 for his team event. Hester is openly gay.
Caroline Seger, Sweden, Soccer
Seger is a midfielder for the Swedish national soccer team. She has represented Sweden in three World Cups as well as the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Seger came out in 2013.
Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden, Soccer
Lindahl has been awarded Sweden’s Goalkeeper of the Year award three times and represented Sweden in the 2015 World Cup. She married Sabine Willms in 2011. They have a son together who was born in 2014.
Lisa Dahlkvist, Sweden, Soccer
Dahlkvist is a midfielder who played twice in the World Cup and in the 2012 Olympics in London. She and wife Jessica Danielsson welcomed their daughter Penny into the world in November.
Michelle Heyman, Australia, Soccer
Heyman is a striker for Canberra United, and Rio will be her first Olympic trip. She wrote a powerful piece about her coming out story, noting, “Being ‘out’ as a professional athlete was simple for myself. From the day I told my parents, I could be comfortable in my skin. I would never hide who I am, and I think that is what makes me so confident within myself.”
Robbie Manson, New Zealand, Rowing
Manson competed in the 2012 Olympics and won the bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships. He wrote a powerful essay on his journey and decision to come out for Out Sports.
Seimone Augustus, United States, Basketball
Augustus has been playing professional basketball since 2006 and currently plays for the Minnesota Lynx. She earned two Olympic gold medals in 2008 and 2012. She married LaTaya Varner in Hawaii last year.
Tom Bosworth, Great Britain, Race Walking
Bosworth will be competing in his first Olympics this year in the 20 kilometer walk. He came out last year as gay.
Tom Daley, Great Britain, Diver
Daley won a bronze medal in the 2012 Olympics in London. He is engaged to Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
Edward Gal, Netherlands, Equestrian
Gal won the Bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics for team dressage, as well as taking home numerous gold medals at the 2010 World Championship. He and teammate Hans Peter Minderhoud have been in a relationship for several years.
Maartje Paumen, Netherlands, Field Hockey
Paumen has been a member of the Dutch national field hockey team for many years, taking home two Olympic gold medals. Collectively, Paumen has scored 14 goals in both the Beijing and London Olympics, making her one of the top Olympic scorers. Paumen came out in 2009 following the European Championship.
Megan Rapinoe, United States, Soccer
Rapinoe is a midfielder who currently plays for the Seattle Reign FC. She has played in multiple World Cups and the 2012 Olympics, where she famously scored a “Goal Olympico,” a goal from a corner kick. Rapinoe came out just before the London games in 2012.
Hans Peter Minderhoud, Netherlands, Equestrian
Minderhound took home the silver medal in the 2008 Olympics for team dressage and also took home gold at the Kentucky World Championships in 2010. He dated fellow dressage competitor Edward Gal.
Nicola Adams, Great Britain, Boxing
Adams is currently the world flyweight champion, after defeating Thailand’s Peamwilai Laopeam in Kazakhstan. She will be defending her 2012 gold medal in this year’s Olympics. She is openly bisexual.
Alexandra Lacrabère, France, Handball
Rio will be Lacrabère’s third Olympic Games. Lacrabère was on France’s national women’s handball team when they won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships. She came out before the London Olympics.
Ian Matos, Brazil, Diving
Matos participated in the 2011 Pan American Games and came in fourth. He also won a bronze medal in 2012 during a U.S. World Tour event. Matos came out as gay in 2014.
Angel McCoughtry, United States, Basketball
McCoughtry plays for the Atlanta Dream in the WNBA. She holds two WNBA scoring titles and is engaged to Brande Elise.
Marie-Eve Nault, Canada, Soccer
Nault has represented Canada as a defender in two World Cups and the 2012 Olympics when Canada won the bronze medal. She has been playing soccer since she was seven-years-old.
Ashley Nee, United States, Kayaking
Nee won the bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games. This will be her first Olympic Games. She suffered a shoulder injury before the 2008 Olympics and just missed qualification for the 2012 Olympics. Her wife, Ashley McEwan, convinced her to continue chasing her Olympic dreams.
Helen Richardson-Walsh, Great Britain, Field Hockey
Richardson-Walsh has competed as a midfielder in three Olympics and has been named to the International Hockey Federation World All Stars Team three times. She and wife Kate, who is also on the field hockey team, have been married since 2013 and will compete in Rio together.
Kate Richardson-Walsh, Great Britain, Field Hockey
Like her wife, Richardson-Walsh will be competing in her fourth Olympics. She has been captain of the team since 2003 and was Great Britain’s Hockey Athlete of the Year in 2007.
Susannah Townsend, Great Britain, Field Hockey
Townsend has been playing internationally since the 2008 Olympics. In 2014, she was named the Hockey Writers' Club Women's Player of the Year. She and girlfriend, Dirkie Chamberlain, played against each other in several competitions.
Spencer Wilton, Great Britain, Equestrian
Wilton won his first Dressage National Title in 1999. While he has won 13 national titles, Rio will be his first Olympics. He was previously in a relationship with fellow equestrian Edward Gal.
Nadine Müller, Germany, Discus
Muller has been competing since she was a teenager. She earned the silver medal in the 2011 World Championship and the bronze medal in 2015. She also competed in the 2012 Olympics. She married her wife on New Year’s Eve in 2013.
Marieke van der Wal, Netherlands, Handball
Van der Wal is the goalkeeper for the Dutch national team. She participated in the 2011 World Championships in Brazil and will be returning to the country for the 2016 Olympics. She came out earlier this year.
Mélanie Hénique, France, Swimming
Henique was the bronze medalist at the 2011 World Championship for the 50 meter butterfly event. Henique is openly lesbian.
Jillion Potter, United States, Rugby
Potter participated in the World Cup in 2014. After battling cancer, Potter focused on the 2016 Olympics. She credits her wife, Carol Fabrizio, for never losing hope.
Elena Delle Donne, United States, Basketball
Donne is a three-time WNBA All-Star starter and was named the 2015 WNBA MVP. She currently plays for the Chicago Sky. She came out in the August issue of Vogue and is engaged to Amanda Clifton.