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Outgames athletes prepare 100 days out from the event

The 2009 World Outgames kick off with the Opening Ceremony in Copenhagen on Saturday, July 25. As the clock ticks down on training for the anticipated 6,500 sporting participants, writer Ross Forman This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it will be profiling Outgames athletes over the next six months in a new continuing series: The Outgames Athletes.

Zoey Balfour Renato Brito
balfourThere isn’t much mistaking Zoe Balfour, 51, a same-sex lesbian dancer from Oakland, Calif., who will be in Copenhagen at the 2009 World Outgames, set to begin on July 25.

Balfour is bald, and has danced with rhinestones and fake tattoos on her head.

Balfour, you see, has universal alopecia, Chrone’s disease, and other immune system ailments.

"I’m a dance geek," said Balfour, who graduated high school in 1974 at age 15.

She then attended the University of Illinois, graduating in 1978, and is now an apartment manager and dance teacher.

"I love dancing with queers from all over the world," Balfour said. "Wherever we are from, the dancing brings us together."

Balfour has had incredible success at past dance events. Just consider what she has won:

• Silver medal in Sydney at the Gay Games in Level D standard ballroom.
• Bronze medal in Level A women’s standard ballroom at the 2006 Gay Games.
• Fourth-place in Level A women’s standard ballroom at the 2006 Outgames in Montreal.
• North American women’s standard ballroom champions and Californian champions for last 3 years.


GETTING TO KNOW Zoe Balfour

SPORT(S) PARTICIPATING IN AT THE OUTGAMES: Ballroom dancing, adult and seniors. Formation team. (show dancing)

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: Married to partner Roke Noir of India.

FAVORITE PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM(S): "I don’t really watch sports other than dancing."

FAVORITE PRO ATHLETE: William Pino

HOBBIES: Walking, reading, crafts, shopping in thrift stores and finding strange clothing items.

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: "I love to go camping."

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE OUTGAMES: "To dance the best I have ever danced."

DEDICATING THE 2009 WORLD OUTGAMES TO ANYONE: "My parents, who both died young ( 41 and 53). I have almost out-lived both. They loved ballroom dancing and actually met dancing."

(Complete This Sentence) THE OUTGAMES WILL BE A SUCCESS FOR ME ... "because I love what it is and what it creates."
renato_1Renato Brito just wants to repeat the success – and fun – he had in 2006 during the inaugural World Outgames, then held in Montreal. He won three medals in track & field events: one gold, two bronze. And at the 2006 Gay Games, held in Chicago, he won a silver medal.

Oh yeah, in 2008, he also won 11 medals in track events held near his home in Los Angeles.

"I love competing and there's no thrill bigger than being part of the games," said Brito, 44, who graduated from Souza Franco High School in Brazil and then UCLA in 1998.

Brito, who is gay (single), has been HIV+ for 18 years, "and very healthy without ever taking HIV drugs," he said.

Brito is now unemployed as his job was lost in the economic crisis, he said.


GETTING TO KNOW Renato Brito

FAVORITE PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM: "None; I’m not too crazy about professional sports."

FAVORITE PRO ATHLETE: Sanya Richards

HOBBIES: Track, working out, swimming, watching movies, spending time with friends, and sex.

SUPERSTITIONS: "None; I don't believe in that kind of thing."

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR THE OUTGAMES: "Participate, do my best, kick some ass, win a couple medals and have a lot of fun."

WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM OTHER OUTGAMES PARTICIPANTS: "Not much; we are participating with the same aim."

OVERCOME ANY MAJOR OBSTACLES: "Despite my HIV status, I've always been able to do everything I want."

(Complete This Sentence) THE OUTGAMES WILL BE A SUCCESS FOR ME … "because I am confident, more mature in the sport and I’ve been getting ready for it."