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Mountain biker first openly gay Chilean athlete

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Florence Espiñeira happy she can now have her girlfriend at her side during events.

Photo via Zancada.com

Mountain bike rider Florence Espiñeira has become the first Chilean professional athlete to publicly come out as gay. The 22-year-old mountain bike rider told "La Tercera’’, a Chilean news outlet, that she hopes her story will set an example for other gay athletes who are still in the closet.

Espiñeira has already experienced success in her young bike riding career. She placed second at the Pan American Championships Cross Country, and followed that up with a third place finish in the Junior Cup.

Espiñeira is training for the Latin American Championships, which is a racing event that will take place in April. She said that she is not afraid to compete as a homosexual, even if there is potential for homophobia and intolerance.

Though Espiñeira was anxious about coming out, she expressed that she will be proud to have her girlfriend by her side supporting her at future races. She also said that a Chilean soccer player who comes out as gay would have more impact given the high profile of the sport.

Espiñeira acknowledged that Chilean sports still has a way to go in terms of acceptance of LGBT athletes, but is optimistic that equality will soon be achieved.