Donovan Carrillo skated beautifully in the short program of the men’s figure skating competition at the Beijing Winter Olympics, earning a score of 79.69 and a spot in the men’s free skate.
His big smile lit up the arena when he was finished with his performance, jumping up and screaming with joy when he learned he had qualified for the free skate.
The 22-year-old is only the fourth figure skater from Mexico to compete in the Winter Olympic Games and the first in at least 30 years. Now he’s the first Mexican figure skater to ever earn a spot in the Olympic free skate.
NBC highlighted his journey during his Monday night performance. Carrillo apparently trains in a rink in a mall where people stop him and ask him where the restroom is.
“For him to skate in a mall maybe trying it for the first time would be like people coming to your office and watching you at your desk every day,” Johnny Weir said on the broadcast.
He’s also over the years dealt with people calling him “gay” because he’s a figure skater. In 2016, Carrillo tweeted about it, giving the best-possible response you could ask for:
“I don’t mind being called gay because I am NOT,” Carrillo wrote in Spanish. “It infuriates me that they see the word gay as a mockery or an insult to my effort.”
“I admire and respect the LGBT community because I live with many of its members but I am not part of that community.”
Gold medal for being so cool about it!
Also during the NBC broadcast, Tara Lipinski talked about Carrillo being teased because his fellow countrymen thought he should be playing soccer or boxing. As has been NBC’s apparent Olympics policy for years, Lipinski skirted using the word “gay” when talking about the teasing.
While Carrillo isn’t in medal contention, his big smile and attitude certainly somebody to cheer for.
And other athletes (ahem, Troy Aikman) could certainly learn from how he’s handled people wondering if he’s gay.