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Robbie Manson gets two huge wins after coming out, feels he's doing it to inspire others

New Zealand Olympic rower Robbie Manson came out earlier this year. His two huge wins on the water over the weekend were in part to inspire LGBT athletes and so many others.

Harry Engels/Getty Images

Robbie Manson, the openly gay Olympic rower from New Zealand, had a very big weekend. Racing at the Christmas Regatta in his home country, Manson took out some big names en route to victories that have the entire rowing world talking.

World Rowing today tweeted, "Is there a new Kiwi star?" They also posted this glowing roundup:

New Zealand's Christmas Regatta at Lake Karapiro showed the depth of the country's rowing talent when Robbie Manson upstaged Hamish Bond by winning the men's double sculls.

Manson, who rowed the 2014 international season in the men's double sculls with brother Karl, raced the double with Chris Harris and finished six seconds ahead of Bond and his doubles partner Michael Arms. Internationally Bond has not lost a race since 2008 while Arms is coming back to national team rowing following an injury.

Manson also took out a second, and equally impressive win, in the men's single sculls. Racing against Mahe Drysdale, Manson finished seven seconds ahead of the Olympic Champion in a time of 6:47.

Manson came out publicly on Outsports earlier this year. We asked him for a short comment on his big win and he was effusive:

"Obviously I'm pretty pleased with my performance, I felt like I was rowing well going into the weekend but training has been pretty tough lately. I wasn't expecting to win the single, I just wanted to put my best performance out there. I think I probably surprised a lot of people, myself included. Chris and I go well in the double so I wanted to put in a good performance there.

"It is a pretty cool feeling to beat a couple of Olympic Champions (Mahe Drysdale & Hamish Bond). We are lucky in the NZ rowing team that there are so many Olympic and World Champions whom we can match ourselves against every day. It makes it really competitive.

"In saying that, this is only the first of several regatta's this summer (New Zealand Summer), so in a month or so this performance will be irrelevant. We have another regatta in January and February then Nationals then Trials (for the World Championships) first week of March. So although this is a good confidence boost and I know I'm on the right track, consistency throughout the season and a good performance at Trials is also very important. Next year I am aiming to be reselected in the double, but we have very little say in what we are selected in other than our performance on the water.

"I don't think my performance is really affected by my coming out. I've been out for a couple of years now (to friends and family) and I've always been fiercely competitive. When I'm on the water my sexuality is irrelevant.

"In saying that, the response to my story on Outsports has been incredible. I wasn't expecting that at all. Some of the messages I've had have really inspired me. I feel like I have so much support and in a way I'm encouraging other people by doing what I do. Possibly that has had an effect as I feel like I'm not just rowing for myself but to encourage and inspire others. That is a really powerful motivation for me. But at the end of the day I'm just trying to do what I have always done, which is row to the best of my ability.

"This year has been a bit of a disappointing year at the World Cups and World Champs. (After winning three world cups last year in the double with Michael Arms) This is definitely a nice way to end 2014."

We'll be looking for a lot more from Manson to kick off a great 2015!