As I mentioned last time I have been unwell in recent weeks. As a result I wasn’t able to follow and enjoy the Beijing Olympics as much as I had hoped. Therefore, there may be some information which I may miss today.
As promised, the updated complete Winter Olympian list is given at the end, but we’ll start with the Beijing results. This Outsports article lists all the lgbt medal winners. Team LGBT broke several records. It was the biggest ever team at the Winter Olympics and follows the trend shown in the summer games. However, in terms of total number of athletes who won medals Beijing ranks third with 15 (10 gold, 2 silver, 3 bronze), behind Turin 2006 (7 gold, 4 silver, 7 bronze) and Sochi 2014 (6 gold, 10 silver, 1 bronze). These numbers, however, include medals won by athletes who were not openly lgbt at the time. But Beijing did produce more lgbt Winter Olympic champions.
The table below gives the full Beijing results incorporated into the all-time rankings and top 8 finishers. The light blue sections indicate Olympians who won at least one medal and/or top 8 finish. The pale green N boxes indicate the positions of the Olympic debutantes. The = sign indicates that there may be Olympians from previous games who share the same results and ranking. Bear in mind that an Olympian who wins a medal may move down the ranks if other athletes win a higher, or more than one, medal.
Dutch speed skater Ireen Wüst consolidated her place as the most successful lgbt Olympian, and the most successful Dutch Olympian of all time. Ireen also became the first ever Olympian to win an individual gold medal in 5 successive Winter games. Her Beijing gold and bronze medals brings her total medal tally to 13, putting her in second place in the all-time most medalled Winter Olympian (she is 4th in terms of the number of gold medals, with the top 3 each having 8). With such a commanding lead it is very unlikely that she will be surpassed in the lgbt rankings in the foreseeable future (up to 2034), not unless another Michael Phelps or Ian Thorpe emerges to win multiple medals in one games. I don’t expect anyone will overtake Ireen Wüst in my lifetime.
On 4th February I mentioned that Angela Ruggiero was the first openly lgbt member of the International Olympic Committee and its Athlete’s Commission. Beijing could have seen the second, as Ireen Wüst was one of the candidates who put themselves forward for election to the two vacant seats. Unfortunately, she wasn’t elected.
For the first time there were openly lgbt flag bearers at the both the opening and closing ceremony. There have been other lgbt Olympians who had carried their national flags in previous games, but none of them were openly lgbt at the time (though I’m still trying to verify if Chris Witty was out when she carried the Stars and Stripes in Turin 2006). There has also been two flag bearers in one ceremony, but Beijing was the first time there has been one at each ceremony – Brittany Bowe at the opening, and Bruce Mouat at the closing.
The figure skating attracted the most controversy because of a failed drugs test. However, there was enough other notable facts that emerged from that competition. First of all, there was the largest contingent of openly lgbt skaters than ever before, a total of 7. This included the first known non-binary skater, Timothy LeDuc (though we don’t know for sure how all the previous lgbt skaters identified themselves). As has happened in previous sporting events, the lgbt media took it upon itself to police the words of commentators over the use of personal pronouns. In a democratic world only Timothy LeDuc has the right to decide what words were disrespectful.
Beijing provided us with the first lgbt Olympic champion in ice dance, gay Frenchman Guillaume Cizeron and his dance partner Gabriella Papadakis, In a competition full of queer elements Papadakis and Cizeron’s rhythm dance was heavily influenced by waacking, a form of street dance that originated in the Los Angeles gay and disco clubs of the 1970s. The queer theme was also present in the rhythm dance of the Canadian pairs skaters Piper Gilles and the openly gay Paul Poirier with their vivid orange “Rocketman” costumes and Elton John soundtrack.
Before we move on to other sports let’s return to the Russian skater at the centre of the drug controversy, 15-year old Kamila Valieva. This time we acknowledge concerns around her young age and the effect of competing at an Olympics. She’s not the only teenager to compete at the Olympics. Way back in 2016 I wrote about other teenage Olympians (which needs to be updated in the future). What doesn’t need updating is the age of the youngest ever lgbt Olympian (although he was never out publicly in his lifetime) the Slovak figure skater Ondrej Nepela who competed at the 1964 Winter Olympics a week after his 13th birthday.
Teenagers’ bodies are not fully developed and they are at a disadvantage when competing against older athletes, no matter how good they are. They are more suited to the Youth Olympics, where there is a more level field of competition. That is why the Youth Olympics were created.
Elsewhere in Beijing we saw another record broken in the women’s ice hockey tournament. The Canadian team had 7 openly lgbt players, the largest in any team sport at the Winter Olympics. By winning the gold medal they became the largest lgbt group in a team event to become Olympic champions. They also broke the record of scoring the most goals in an Olympic ice hockey tournament, and that was before they played their semi-final.
That’s all the information I was able to gather during my illness, but I hope it still shows you just how prominent lgbt athletes continue to be at the Olympics. So, to bring this year’s Olympic coverage to a close here is the updated complete list of lgbt Winter Olympians.