New Zealand short track speed skater Blake Skjellerup, who competed in the Vancouver Olympics, has come out as gay in an interview with writer Lee Suckling in DNA
Skjellerup says that he walked around Vancouver during the Games hand in hand with his boyfriend and also visited PRIDE House, the gay meeting place at Whistler.
In a rare public admission by a New Zealand athlete, the speed skater said he delayed coming out publicly until after the February games in Vancouver for fear of affecting his focus and potential sponsors.
“The first real issue was that I was there to compete – to focus on my skating – and to not have the focus on my sexuality,” he said in an interview with DNA magazine, excerpts of which were published online.
“We are not yet at the point in society where being a gay sportsperson is not a big deal. If I was asked during any of my twenty-something interviews at the Olympics whether I had a boyfriend or a girlfriend – in the same sentence – I would have replied honestly, but I may have replied hesitantly.”
On Twitter Blake tweeted “Dear everyone. Thank you for all the support. Gay rights forever, homophobia never!”