Monday 23 July 2012

Team LGB at London 2012

If the global crash of Grindr was caused, as my unmentionable tabloid claimed, by Olympians arriving at the Olympic village then team LGBT is a lot bigger than many of us imagined. There are 15 competitors at these games who are open about their sexuality being other than heterosexual.

So if the small amount of athletes and one expects the similarly small proportion of support staff can affect one of Grindr's largest network spikes then maybe the gay Olympian lobby can expect mighty things. So who are they.

Matthew Mitcham (Australia, diving) - Is the defending champion in the 10m Plattform so team GB are hoping the Aussie doesn't defend his title as he is up against our own Tom Daley.

In the 2010 Commonwealth Games he took double silver behind Daley in both events. He failed to medal in the 2009 Worlds behind another Daley gold and the double Chinese threat lead by Qiu Bo.

He is still a medal contender and along with Tom Daley and Qiu Bo it is going to to be a tough battle for the medals. At 24 he is still young but he is already being threatened by the two teenagers in his defense of his title.

 Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian) is a triple gold medalist from the 2010 Dressage World Championships on his horse Tortilas. He is in a long term relationship with his team mate and team silver medalist from Beijing Hans Peter Minderhoud, who sadly did not make the team this time depriving the Games of a gay couple competing together.

He will be looking for gold in Greenwich Park at the equestrian centre on Glock's Undercover, both in the individual and hoping the Dutch can overcome the Germans for team gold.
 Lisa Raymond (U.S., doubles tennis) has won six womens and five mixed Grand Slam Doubles tournaments in her long career.

She and her doubles partner Leizel Huber are actually the number one ranked doubles team in the world and both being USA were an easy choice along with the Williams sisters to try for doubles gold.

In 2004 Raymond was part of an doubles team with another famous out tennis player, Martina Navratilova, but they were beated in the Quarter Finals in Athens.

Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling) last month Arndt who is the world time trial champion won the double as her nation's time trial and road race titles. She will be amonst the favourites for gold in the women's TT at Hampton Court.

She has had medals at previous Olympics bronze on the track in the individual pursuit in 1996 and silver in the road race in 2004.

She won the Women's Touy of Flanders earlier this year for the Orica-Greenedge Team. Having been like Mark Cavendish part of the HTC-Highroad set up for years before they exited cycling last year.

Seimone Augustus (U.S., basketball) The Minnesota Lynx player is coming to her second Games. As part of the all powerful USA team she will be expecting a second gold.

On the way to helping the Lynxs to the WNBA title last year she set a record for most points in a final game with 36 in Game two and lead her team in scoring in 5 of the 8 Games required to give her her first national title.

She also concurrently with her WNBA career has been playing with some of the European teams in Turkey and Russia

She is currently engaged to her girlfriend LaTaya Varner.

 Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing) Having tasting team silver in the 2004 Games the German has gone on to secure individual gold in the 2010 European Championships for the épée.

She has very recently been outspoken about the Olympic governing boards selling out the Games to commercial interests.

A feisty lesbian at the end of the sword! I hope the worlds largest McDonalds in the Olympic Park are ready for her wanting to take down those golden arches.

Megan Rapinoe (U.S. football). The Seattle Sounders player will be making her Olympic debut after anterior cruciate ligament injuries ruled her out of the 2007 World Cup and 2008 Olympic squads. She will be the first of the LGB Olympic contingent to take part when the USA kick off against France at Hampden Park on Wednesday.

She has had 52 appearances for the senior squad since 2006 though playing in midfield or on the wing. She's scored 12 times in internationals so the chances are that she will score a goal in the Olympic tournament at one of the venues for the football across the country.

She only came out at the start of the month in Out magazine announcing that her girlfriend is Australian forward Sarah Walsh who sadly will not be waltzing with the rest of the Matildas to the Games this time. Although he may be passing on some of her Olympic experiences to Rapinoe having been to the Games in 2004.

Marilyn Agliotti (Netherlands, field hockey). Although born in South Africa, whom she has represented at international level, Agliotti was part of the gold medal winning Dutch hockey team from Beijing.

Because of marriage equality laws in the Netherlands she is married to another woman.

The women in Orange are among the favourites again in London, so expect to see them clashing with the pink and blue of the hockey pitches for quite some time.

But the Dutch women's hockey team have the most LGB representation that we know of as there is also.

Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey) who was another member of that sucessful 2008 team.

Paumen was top scorer in the 2010 Women's  World Cup which the Dutch also won

 Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball). Cook will be taking part in her fifth Olympic Games on Horse Guards Parade this summer. On home soil in Sydney in 2000 she added a gold to go with a bronze from four years earlier in Atlanta. In Beijing last time she finished in 5th place. She will be taking part with Tasmin Hinchley this time.

Shortly after those Games she got married to Canadian Beach Volleyballer Sarah Maxwell who had retired from the sport in the lead up to those Games.

Cook has recently got involved in the gender debate surrounding the flag bearer for Team Australia in the opening ceremony. She is threatening to sit in protest if a fourth women in history and the first since 1992 isn't given the honour of bearing her nation's flag.

Alexandra Lacrabère (France, handball). Taking part in her second Olympics after being part of the French team that came 5th in Beijing, but has since gone on to come second in last year's world championships.

She is one of only a handful of major French sportswoman since Amelie Mouresmo came out in 1999 to be so public about her sexuality, but it was the casual matter of fact way that she dropped the fact that she liked to relax by shopping or spending time with her girlfriend that was refreshing for the young 24 year old. The comments were made in a handball magazine just before the world championships and went hardly noticed.

 Jessica Landström (Sweden, soccer) Landström has 58 caps for Sweden since her debut in 2007. This includes playing in the 2011 World Cup scoring the only Swedish goal while they lost to Japan in the semi-finals and then being an unused sub in the 3rd/4th play off which Sweden won.

A year after her senior international debut she came out to acknowledge the support of her girlfriend Sara to her career. The two meet at a Pride Festival in 2005 and have been together since.

Her team will be at the City of Coventry Stadium on Wednesday from 18:45 the day that two of our 14 LGB Olympians start their Games.

Carole Péon (France, triathlon) and Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon). The French pair (although Harrison is born in Sheffield) both made their debut at the 2008 Games. Harrison finished 12th and her partner 34th.

Harrison won her first World Cup title in Tongyeong last October while Péon came in 4th. Followed a month later by Péon's first win at the same level in Guatape.

The two are probably the first LGB couple to take part in the Games and now they are going to be doing so again.

One thing that does strike me about all the 14 above is that they are all at top world level, so there are other Olympians who have yet to had the spotlight turned on them in just such a way, who may also be part of team LGB.

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