Caitlin Rooskrantz is making Olympics history. The teenage gymnast isn’t only one of the first two women of color to represent South Africa in gymnastics.
She’s also the first woman to be publicly out in gymnastics while competing at an Olympics.
Rooskrantz, 19, burst onto the international stage when she won gold at the 2019 Artistic Gymnastics World Cup Challenge event in Hungary. The victory qualified her for the Tokyo Games, making her the first South African gymnast to qualify for the Olympics through a world championship.
“For me to have started as a young girl, a person of color, I was just doing it recreationally,” she told the Olympic Channel at the time. “I didn’t even think that it would go anywhere.”
Well, it certainly has. Rooskrantz made her Olympics debut in the artistic gymnastics qualifiers, alongside her best friend of 10 years, Naveen Daries.
They’re the only South African gymnasts in Tokyo.
Rooskrantz recorded her personal best score in international competitions, an overall tally of 49.933 — good for 61st overall. (Daries, who’s making history with Rooskrantz as a woman of color, finished 76th overall.)
“It was incredible. I don’t know – I’m lost for words. I’m a little emotional,” Rooskrantz told Daily Maverick.
The gymnastics star is also openly LGBTQ. She shared a photograph with her partner to commemorate Pride Month.
As an openly LGBTQ gymnast, Rooskrantz joins Jeffrey Wammes of Denmark and Ioannis Melissanidis Greece as the only out gymnasts in Olympics history, according to LGBTQ Olympics historian Tony Scupham-Bilton.
The significance of Rooskrantz’s achievements aren’t lost on her.
“I think at some point you start wondering if you should be selling the Olympic dream to the gymnasts that walk in here [Johannesburg Gymnastics Centre],” she told newframe.com in 2019. “There are gymnasts here who train six days a week, five hours a day, and you almost think, ‘Am I selling them a lie?’ So my Olympic Games qualification has really made it achievable.”
We can’t wait to see what she does next!
Follow Caitlin Rooskrantz on Instagram.