Monday 16 January 2017

LGBT Olympians List 2017

As I promised last month here is the brand new version of my lgbt Olympic and Paralympic list. A big leap forward was made with the record-breaking number of out lgb athletes in Rio.

To add an extra dimension to my research I’ve also produced an infographic of some of the many facts surrounding lgbt Olympians (I haven’t included the Paralympians). You will find this infographic at the end of today’s article.

This summer I identified more lgbt athletes from previous Olympics during my research than in the whole of the previous 4 years. I have also been greatly helped by my friends at

This time next year, in advance of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea, there will be a new addition to my list. This will be athletes who competed in Olympic trials and qualifying events. Since London 2012 several lgbt athletes were heralded as Olympic hopefuls. Their progress to Olympism was followed closely during the various trials and qualifying events. Some were successful and made it to Rio (e.g. Spencer Wilton) while others were not (e.g. Samantha Sendel).

My method of determining who to include on the full list in the future can be summed up in the following 3 points.

1) Athletes officially selected for national teams for any Olympic or Paralympic games, whether they actually competed or not (e.g. this includes substitutes on team events who were not called upon to compete; this section excludes named athletes who were dropped from the official team or disqualified by the IOC prior to the games).

2) Athletes who were officially selected as reserve or alternate members of the national team; also athletes selected for national Olympic teams but who withdrew injured, or who were forced to boycott the games (this does not include athletes who were disqualified by the IOC or national teams prior to the games).

3) Athletes who competed in Olympic and Paralympic trials or qualifying competitions who were not selected for the national teams; this section includes those athletes who were selected but dropped from their team or disqualified by the IOC prior to the games.

In a lot of cases athletes compete in trials and qualifying events but do not envisage being selected for an Olympic team. Quite often national championships are held as trial events. Some athletes compete to achieve national rankings rather than Olympic selection. Many who do achieve national ranking see this as a step towards future Olympic success. However, the fact that a national championship is given official status by the IOC as a trial or qualifying event is enough justification for me to include all known lgbt athletes who competed at those championships as those who went on to Olympic success.

I’ll give one example to explain this. In figure skating the Canadian Championships are divided into three categories – senior, junior and novice. At the 1998 championships which served as the Olympic selection event for the Nagano Winter Games Jeff Buttle competed in the Junior category. He finished 6th and earned a place on the national junior team but not the Olympics. Four year later he competed in the Canadian Championship again which served as the Olympic selection event for Salt Lake City. This time he finished second in the senior event and was selected as a reserve for the skaters who were chosen for the Olympic team (I won’t go into why he didn’t compete when one of the selected skaters was dropped). Another four years later and Jeff competed in the 2006 championships which again acted as the selection event. This time he made the team and made his Olympic debut in Turin. He won a bronze medal. Jeff retired from competitive skating two years later, but returned to the Olympics as choreographer to the gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu. I hope this example gives you an idea of far before and beyond the actual Olympic games an Olympic career can span. There are more examples like this in other sports.

I hope that hasn’t confused you! So, here’s the new lgbt Olympian list followed by the new infographic.

[This list, and the infographic below, is now out of date. For the newest list go here.]

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