Out Olympic Athletes Win Dozens of Medals in Tokyo

Out American basketball players Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird pose with their gold medals.
James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly 200 out LGBTQ athletes combined to win 32 medals — including 11 gold medals — throughout the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, concluding an impressive Olympic season for the community on the world stage.

The success of out athletes in Tokyo was fueled in part by a major increase in the amount of out athletes participating in this year’s summer Olympic games. According to OutSports, there were a whopping 182 out athletes this time around — far outnumbering the 23 total out athletes in 2012 and 56 in 2016.

The influx of queer athletes at the Tokyo Olympics also translated into the shattering of historic barriers. Quinn, a non-binary soccer player, became the first out trans athlete to play at the Olympics — and then they made history all over again by becoming the first out trans athlete to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

Meanwhile, out trans weightlifter Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand also participated in the Olympics — though she was knocked out early on when she was unable to register a lift.

LGBTQ athletes came through in the clutch on both an individual basis and on their respective teams, and Americans were well represented. Team USA’s basketball squad, which nabbed a gold medal, featured several out athletes, including Sue Bird, Chelsea Gray, Brittany Griner, Breanna Stewart, and Diana Taurasi. Team USA’s three-on-three basketball team also escaped Tokyo with a gold medal after the squad was buoyed by Stefanie Dolson, another out player.

Outsports tallied several out Americans who won silver and bronze medals, as well. Hannah Roberts won a silver medal in the BMX freestyle competition, while Raven Saunders won a silver medal for the American track and field team. Saunders subsequently took an opportunity to pay tribute to her queer siblings and gestured an “x” on the medal stand to represent “the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet.”

“I want to give a shout out to all the LGBTQ community,” Saunders said.

Swimmer Erica Sullivan earned a silver medal for Team USA in the 1500-meter freestyle, while Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney combined to grab the silver medal for the American softball team.

Out athletes on Team USA’s soccer team — featuring Megan Rapinoe, Tierna Davidson, Adrianna Franch, Kelley O’Hara — won a bronze medal after defeating Australia, 4-3. Quinn was a part of the Canadian team that won a gold medal in soccer, marking the nation’s first gold medal in women’s soccer.

Out diving star Tom Daley captured multiple medals, including a gold medal in synchronized 10-meter event, despite facing homophobia from Russian state TV and others.

An out boxer from the Philippines, Nesthy Petecio, received a silver medal in Women’s Featherweight Boxing and dedicated her success to the LGBTQ community as well as her team. “This win is for the LGBTQ community,” Petecio said. “Let’s go, fight!”

In less than six months, the 2022 Winter Olympics will get underway in Beijing, where events will take place from February 4 to February 22.

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