Timo Cavelius, right, of Germany, will compete in his first Olympics. | David Finch/Getty Images

Name: Timo Cavelius
Country: Germany
Sport: Judo, 81kg (178 pounds)
Previous Olympic Experience: None
Social Media: Instagram

Who is Timo Cavelius

Timo Cavelius, 27, has spent years trying to make Germany’s Olympic judo team, and 2024 was his breakthrough. In May he finished second at a major meet in Kazakhstan and qualified for the Olympics.

With his selection, Cavelius is the first out gay male jukoda to make an Olympic roster.

What’s most impressive about Cavelius is that he has been out as gay since he was 15. He considers his whole coming out sort of boring.

“A well-known German tabloid actually wanted to do a big story about my sexuality,” he said in a 2020 interview, “but because I can’t tell a sad or shocking story about my coming out, they dropped the topic.”

In a recent Instagram post about being an LGBTQ athlete in Germany, Cavelius spoke about taking his boyfriend to a match and then telling people he was just his friend.

“I didn’t have the courage to say that he was my steady boyfriend,” he said. “It was just exhausting always acting as if I had a girlfriend or was attracted to the opposite sex.”

His breakthrough in coming out came courtesy of therapy.

“I had a kind of pivotal experience when I spoke to our sports psychologist about my sexuality for the first time,” he said in a previous interview. ” Actually, we work with the psychologists to develop rituals and learn techniques for de-stressing in combat. When I told her about my gayness, she didn’t try to push me in any direction, but made it clear that the choice was entirely mine. And it was true: I could decide for myself how to deal with this matter. The fear of coming out came from me, I had overcome it with friends and family.”

He fights in a sport where many of the top athletes are from countries where being gay is not accepted. This had led some of his competitors to view him as somewhat weak, he said, but that they still accept him as a man and are not hesitant to compete against him in a sport where there is a lot of grabbing and touching.

Cavelius holds himself up as an example of the power of coming out.

“I don’t want to blame other gay boys for their problems, but I still think a lot of people scare themselves about coming out,” he said. “The moment I took my destiny into my own hands, nothing could happen to me. My credo is very clear: There is no longer any room for homophobia today, not even in professional sport.”

Timo Cavelius at the Paris Summer Olympics

Cavelius’ 81kg class holds its matches on July 30, with the gold medal winner in the field of 64 having to win six matches in a day. He is currently ranked 21st in the world, meaning he’s in good shape to make a run deep into the tourney. Regardless of how he finishes, he has already made history.

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