Part of Outsports’ series on our 100 most important moments in gay sports history.
Olympics, 2004. There had been the occasional out athlete at the Olympics before, but 2004 was a coming out party for Olympians. All told at least 11 openly gay athletes participated in the Olympics in the birthplace of the Games. From Outsports' preview of the Games:
The 11 are: Robert Dover (American equestrian rider and subject of a terrific profile); Guenter Seidel (an American on the equestrian team), Carl Hester (British dressage team), Blyth Tait (a champion New Zealand horseman), Rob Newton (British hurdler), tennis players Amelie Mauresmo, Conchita Martinez and Martina Navratilova, Dutch swimmer Johan Kenkhuis (who came out earlier this year, and won won silver in the men's 4x100 freestyle relay), German cyclist Judith Arndt and female German fencer Imke Duplitzer (who lost in the quarterfinals).
It was these Olympics, with various out athletes from various sports and several countries, that made a statement about athletes' sexual orientation. With several of them winning medals, 2004 was in large part a precursor to the frenzy that would erupt four years later in diving.
There had been seven out athletes in Sydney in 2000, so the 11 in 2004 was a 50% increase. Interestingly, though maybe not surprisingly, we knew of fewer out competitors in 2008 in Beijing than in 2004. We're guessing 2012 could bring us over a dozen openly gay athletes.
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