Sunday, 17 June 2012

Olympic Countdown

The Sydney Olympics of 2000 were the gayest ever! As well as an impressive 40 athletes the closing ceremony could not have been more camp! To give the Sydney games justice I’ve decided to split it into 2. Today I’ll concentrate on the 17 medallists – also the most for any Olympics. Even though 40 is an impressive number, only 8 were out publicly.

Leading the lgbt medal table was the home country Australia. Defending her gold medal was hockey player Alyson Annan. During the games she and her husband, Argentinian Olympic hockey player Max Caldes, split up. It was in this tournament that Alyson became friends with rival player Carole Thate of the Netherlands. They had both played against each other 4 years previously as well, with the same result – gold for Australia, bronze for the Netherlands. Retiring from competition Alyson moved to Holland where she and Carole married in 2005.

The Australian beach volleyball player Natalie Cook dominated the competition with her volleyball partner and they won the gold. They became Members of the Order of Australia in the following honours list. Natalie went on to compete twice more at the Olympics.

Other Australian medallists were Daniel Kowalski (gold, swimming), and Ji Wallace (silver, trampoline).

Returning to go one better than a silver medal from 1996 was cyclist Michelle Ferris. Competing on home soil added extra pressure from national expectations. Michelle was up against her old rival from France but could only manage silver again. The nation’s disappointment disappeared when Michelle said that the only important thing was that she had beaten her personal best time – and beat the Olympic record with her rival.

Although retired from elite competition, Michelle continues to take part in Masters events and the Gay Games, competing in the Cologne games in 2010 winning a gold and silver medal.

The Danish handball team successfully defended their gold medal. This competition saw for the one and only time in Olympic history a married couple playing against each other – Camilla Andersen (Denmark) and Mia Hundvin (Norway). They registered their partnership earlier that year and  played in a preliminary round match against each other. Mia and the Norwegian team went on to win bronze. Their relationship, however, didn’t last long and they divorced in 2003.

The sport with the most lgbt medallists in 2000 was equestrianism. British paralympian Lee Pearson made his debut and instantly entered the record books as the first gay paralympian, and finished the games with another record of being the only lgbt athlete to win 3 gold medals at one Olympics.

One remarkable incident occurred at the medal ceremony of the team dressage. Of the 12 people who received medals, 3 of them were men – and all of them gay. They were Robert Dover and Guenter Seidel (both USA, bronze) and Arjen  Teeuwissen (Netherlands, silver).

The women’s football competition also saw a couple of medals. On the gold medal-winning Norwegian team was Bente Nordby. In the semi-finals they beat Germany, who then beat Brazil to the bronze medal. On the German team was the 1999 German Female Footballer of the Year, Inka Grings, while German substitute goalkeeper Nadine Angerer didn’t get a medal because she didn’t play in the bronze medal match.

The remaining lgbt gold medal went to Sheryl Swoopes on the US basketball team.

Finally 2 bronze medals – Swedish high jumper Kajsa Bergqvist, and Dutch swimmer Johan Kenhkuis in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Next time I’ll look at the other lgbt athletes at Sydney, and camp it up with the closing ceremony.

For more, official, information on the Games go to

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