Katarzyna Zillmann won a silver medal in the quadruple sculls with Team Poland at the Tokyo Olympics on Wednesday. Moments after, she grabbed a microphone and thanked her girlfriend, effectively coming out publicly.
Interestingly, Zillmann told a reporter after her big moment that she had talked with reporters before about being LGBTQ, but that never made it to the public’s eye.
“The conversations with you after the medal race were not groundbreaking for me,” she said. “I’ve already talked about it in interviews before, but for some reason it wasn’t published.”
While Zillmann says she was never really “in the closet,” she does now feel the need — given she is an Olympic medalist — to use her platform to help people understand the LGBTQ community:
I felt the need. Until now, however, my voice was not as loud as it is now. Coming back to Kasia Skorupa, I really appreciate what she does, just as I appreciate every Polish athlete who talks about these matters. I know that in this way I will help others. It was enough that I showed up in a T-shirt with the words “Sport against homophobia” and I got a few messages from young girls practicing rowing. One of them opened up to me, described her difficult home situation to me and confessed that I helped her a lot with my attitude. One such message is enough to completely forget about thousands of hate comments and disgusted faces.
Zillmann is now one of several out LGBTQ Olympians we know of representing Poland.
You can follow Zillmann on Instagram.