Olympic speedskater Blake Skjellerup in the buff in photo shoot

Blake Skjellerup - jamesdemitri.com

The Kiwi Olympian hopes photos reveal his training and determination and drive some new-found fans

One of the few openly gay Olympians, Winter or Summer, is New Zealand speedskater Blake Skjellerup. He is training with his eye on making the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Recently, he posed in the nude for two photos by James Demitri, a fashion and celebrity photographer in Australia and New Zealand. My first reaction was wow, and my second was that shirtless speedskating would increase TV ratings a hundredfold.

I asked Skjellerup via Facebook about doing the shoot:

The opportunity came up to shoot with James and I took up on the opportunity. He is a fantastic photographer who has worked with some big names!

I am 27 years old, and my athletic career only spans for so long. I am under 12 months away from the Olympics in Russia and when that day comes I need to have done everything possible to be at my best.

To me, I wouldn't call the pictures nude, more artistic, capturing the hours of blood, sweat and tears I put in to training my body.

I need all the support I can get going into Sochi. I had someone ask me recently "is the problem in gaining sponsors because you are gay" and I personally would like to think not.

I can't reach Sochi alone. Speed skating is an individual sport, but it's an all round team effort to get me there.

You can see both photos on Demitri's Tumblr page (scroll down a little bit). As whether they are NSFW, one does show his butt, the other cropped slightly below the navel. I wish more athletes would show us the fruits of their training.

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