Living 50 miles west of
the Greenwich Meridian my final hunt for the most far-flung of Gay Games
medallists brings me “back home”, taking the meridian as my most westerly point.
It’s a pity that the
only out gay UK soccer player, Liam Davis, hasn’t competed at the Gay Games.
No-one gets closer than him to the meridian. He plays for Gainsborough (0° 46’
W), where most of my family live and where I lived for a few years. Liam
actually lives in the seaside town (and location of many happy childhood
holidays) of Cleethorpes (0° exactly). With his partner he co-owns a café which
is less than 1km from the meridian line.
The Greenwich Meridian
passes through a handful of countries – the UK, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali,
Burkina Faso, Ghana and Togo. These last 5 are all in Africa and are not known
for their lgbt rights. However, both Ghana and Algeria have sent athletes to
the Gay Games though none have won medals.
Which leaves us looking
at the European nations, all highly represented in international sport. To be
fair to all 3 countries I’ve nominated one athlete from each to represent their
nation as a whole.
With France being the
European country through which the meridian passes for the longest there are a
large number of possible locations to find my nomination as the most westerly
French medallist. My nomination is Pierre
Huguet. Pierre, a history teacher, won a gold and 2 bronze medals in 3
relay teams at the 2010 Cologne Gay Games. He was living in Marseille at the
time and ran with several international runners who teamed up at the contest.
He also won an individual silver medal in the 300m steeplechase.
Pierre’s hometown in
Niort (0° 27’ W) and he studied at the University of Poitiers (0° 20’ E) just
across the meridian. Pierre is a committee member and co-webmaster of
Frontrunners Marseille. He is also an honorary members of Glasgow Frontrunners,
a club he visited in 2012 just after it was formed.
Surprisingly few Spanish
athletes have won medals at the Gay Games. Some may have joined teams from
other nations (e.g. if working or studying abroad). My nomination for the most
westerly Spanish medallist is Natividad
Pericot Roos. Her home town is San Vicent del Raspeig (0° 31’ W) and she
works in Alicante (0° 28’ W). Natividad is another tenpin bowler (we had Dion
Leslie of New Zealand last time). At the Cologne Gay Games in 2010 she picked
up a gold medal with the women’s social team contest (with Caroline Lacharte
and Stefanie Goss) and a bronze with Caroline in the women’s social team
With the meridian
passing through London there are dozens of athletes to choose as the most
westerly British medallist. I’ve nominated Simon
Bostic. His life story deserves a little more attention as he has provided
a legacy with has affected thousands and inspired millions.
In 1973 Simon was less
than 2 years old and doctors said he wouldn’t see his 3rd birthday
because he was born with CGD (chronic granulomautus disease), a condition where
bone marrow can’t produce fully effective white blood cells. People with HIV
will know the health implications of this. Any infection could be
life-threatening. His older brother Andrew had died of CGD at the age of 2 and
his own only hope of survival was a bone marrow transplant.
There was no bone marrow
match in Simon’s family so a media appeal was launched and 50,000 people
volunteered for testing. Only one was a match. The transplant took place on
Friday 13th April 1973 and was a success. (On a future Friday 13th
I’ll go into more detail.) Simon’s place in medical history is assured as the
first survivor of a bone marrow transplant from a total stranger, a
Since the transplant
Simon has inspired hope in other bone marrow patients and has been instrumental
in inspiring millions of people to register as possible donors. Until Simon’s
successful operation the only real incentive to donate bone marrow was help to
a close relative. Now anyone in the world could be considered a possible match.
At the Gay Games in
Amsterdam in 1998 Simon won a silver medal in the Latin dance category with
Alan Charles Wale. Today Simon works for Charity Challenge which organises
expeditions to raise funds for various charities. He was head of Operations for
the 2010 Comic Relief climb up Mount Kilimanjaro of which Martina Navratilova
I hope you found this
little series of articles interesting, but if I had to choose only one
nomination from each of the four points they’d be the following:
Snæbjörnsson, Sveinseyri, Iceland (65°N).
Crosland, McMurdo Station, Antarctic (77°S).
Torrie, Gisborne, New Zealand (178°E).
Bostic, London (0°).