Out at the Olympics & Paralympics (part 1)
Well, here’s another twofer. Because of course, what we all really want to know is: Who are the Ls, the Bs and the Ts heading there?
Well, I can’t find any out Irishers, but Outsports compiled a list of out Olympians which includes these fine specimens of athletic achievement (check back for part deux!):
Marilyn Agliotti (The Netherlands // field hockey)
Originally from South Africa where she played for the national side, Agliotti began playing for the Dutch hockey team in 2007 after her naturalisation as a Dutch citizen. She’s a winger, and was a member of the Dutch team that won the gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
She met and married her wife in the Netherlands, and has spoken out about attitudes towards queer players in hockey, and called for more athletes to come out. She’s said:
Become your own hero. Be proud of yourself and the things you do. Share it with each other. We can’t understand each other if we don’t share. In our world, major problems arise because groups and people do not understand. What is more beautiful than to discover the other, learn from it and thus better understand?
Judith Arndt (Germany // cycling)
36 year-old Arndt is a German professional cyclist with the GreenEDGE-AIS cycling team. At the age of 20, she took the bronze medal in the 3000m pursuit at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2004, she won the world road race championship and at the Olympics came second in the road race.
Arndt has lived in Leipzig with her partner and fellow cyclist, Petra Rossner, since 1996. Arndt was photographed flipping the bird as she crossed the line in the 2004 Athens Games. She made the gesture – which cost her a fine of 200 Swiss francs imposed by International Cycling Union – was in response to the exclusion of Rossner from the German Olympic team.
Seimone Augustus (USA // basketball)
A graduate of Louisiana State University, the 28 year-old, 6ft tall Augustus is a professional WNBA player (guard) for the Minnesota Lynx and the US national team. She was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She’s played professional basketball for six years, and was previously with Galatasaray and WBC Spartak Moscow Region. She’s a three-time all-star, and earned multiple MVP honors leading the Lynx to the 2011 WNBA championship.
Augustus was a member of the US team which took gold at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing 2008, and helped the side to win bronze at the 2006 World Championships in Brazil.
She’s engaged to be married to LaTaya Varner, who she met five years ago in a bar in Minneapolis when their eyes met across the room. Rosemantic! Their first date took place at a local Six Flags theme park. Adorable!
Natalie Cook (Australia // beach volleyball)
With four Olympic appearances already, 37 year-old Nat Cook is preparing to represent Australia again in 2012. Cook returned from a visit to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver earlier this year determined to commence training and begin her journey towards a fifth Olympic Games.
Cook currently resides in Tasmania and is married to fellow beach volleyballer Sarah Maxwell. In addition to her sporting career, Cook tours on the public speaking circuit and has launched her own beach volleyball-related business, Sandstorm.
Lisa Dahlqvist (Sweden // football)
Lisa Dahlqvist was among the Swedish players to hold Team GB to a 0-0 draw at a pre-Olympics friendly on Friday last. The 25 year-old midfielder (or mittfältare) has played for clubs Umeå, Göteborg FC and her current club Tyresö. In her club career, she’s scored a total of 22 goals. She’s played for her national team since 2009, and scored three goals in last year’s FIFA World Cup.
The sport is in her genes, being the daughter of ex-professional footballer Sven Dahlkvists, who played 39 times for Sweden. But who’s in her jeans? Why her girlfriend, Jessica Danielsson, according to Teh Internets.
Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (The Netherlands // field hockey)
A star of the Dutch hockey squad, 25 year-old forward Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (try saying that at double speed) has racked up 16 caps and 2 goals for her team. She made her debut for her country in early 2008 against Germany, and eventually helped her team defeat China to take bronze in the Champions Trophy. The side went on to win again in 2009 in Sydney, the 2010 Hockey World Championship 2010 in Argentina and last year’s Champions Trophy on home turf.
Dirkse is currently in a relationship with team mate Maartje Pauman, according to her Facebook profile (sweetness!).
Imke Duplitzer (Germany // fencing)
En garde! Out and proud Imke Duplitzer is a German épée fencer. At the Athens Olympics in 2004, the 37 year-old Karlsruhe native won the silver medal in the épée competition with teammates, Britta Heidemann and Claudia Bokel. She won bronze at the 2006 World Fencing Championships and took gold in 2010 in the individual épée event at the European Championships in Leipzig.
Jessica Harrison (France // triathlon)
Professional triathlete Jessica Harrison was born in Sheffield, raised in Oxford, and later moved to France. She took up triathlon at the age of 11 because her father was a triathlete. At 15, she raced for Great Britain at the Junior Triathlon World Championships. In 2005, Harrsion became a naturalised French citizen. She currently lives in Montpellier, in the south of the country.
Another experienced Olympican, the 34 year-old represented France in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she finished in 12th place. Harrison is three times Great Britain National Junior Champion; she won the French Champs in 2006; won twice at the 2006 French Grand Prix; and in the same year came fourth in the Doha World Cup and in the Salford World Cup. She won her first ITU World Cup in October last year.
Harrison is in a relationship with fellow triathlete, Carole Péon.
Claire Harvey (Team GB // sitting volleyball)
Hailing from Ashford in Kent, former rugby player Claire Harvey (38) was selected to captain the 2012 ParalympicsGB’s women’s team. Quite an achievement for someone to took up the sport after 2008. The game is basically the same as volleyball. With sitting volleyball, teams of six sitting players attempt to land the ball in their opponents’ half. The only rule that differs is that blocking a serve is permitted. The first team to win three sets wins. Harvey was a member of the British Women’s Sitting Volleyball squad that finished sixth in the Intercontinental Cup earlier this year.
She told Channel 4 that her sporting idols include Billie Jean King and Fatima Whitbread. (Loving your work, Claire.) She also told them that she likes nothing better than sitting in front of a good film while eating brussels sprouts by the bowl full. Poor Claire.. (I’m not loving that so much.)
A Cambrige University graduate, when she’s not gobbling smelly veg and being a top class athlete, Harvey is Head of Corportare Responsibility the UK’s Financial Services Authority, if you don’t mind.
She has spoken about attitudes towards and treatment of queer athletes, saying that it’s “sad” that athletes in more high-profile sports can’t act as role models to young people.
Alexandra Lacrabère (France // handball)
Alexandra Lacrabère (25) is another out, proud athlete with previous Olympic experience. The handballer – who started playing aged 8 – took part in the Beijing Olympics four years ago, where the French team came fifth. The right-back south paw also helped her side take second place at the 2011 World Women’s Handball Championship where she scored 15 goals in two matches. Not bad!
Three more things to love about Lacrabère: (1) She plays handball (titter!); (2) Her club is Arvor 29 Pays de Brest (double titter!); and (3) She came out last November in an interview with Hand Action magazine (*uncontrollable tittering*).
She told Yagg.com that she came out in that interview simply because the reporter asked her a question about her daily life outside of handball, and she couldn’t answer honestly without mentioning her girlfriend. Excuse me while I squee!
Also, she’s from Pau. We all remember Pau, don’t we?