Gay Olympians face rough terrain

As a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 2000 and 2004, it was clear to “Al Meredith” that he would have a hard time representing his country if people knew he was gay. “It’s gotten better over the years, but America is still homophobic and so quick to judge people,” said Meredith, who asked that his real name and sport not be used because he remains competitive and is not out to his family, teammates or coaches. “I didn’t want the risk of losing sponsors,” said Meredith, who won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics. “I knew a couple of athletes who were also gay, but everybody shows up, remains anonymous, and nobody wants to bring all of the attention on them. “People don’t want to lose big sponsorships because of their sexual orientation,” he said. Meredith’s experience also highlights the progress gay athletes and people have made since the early 1980s. While there was no gay-related element to former Atlantan Bruce Hayes’s Olympic experience, Meredith checked out gay bars in Sidney and Athens, and hung out with fellow gay Olympians. “I met athletes from other countries who, you know, you just discover after being around a person and spending that much time with them,” he said. Still, Meredith believed there was a small bit missing from his Olympic experience due to his being gay. “Definitely, you want someone to share those moments with, whether you’re gay or straight,” he said. “Just being able to share those moments of fame with someone that you love and care for, I missed that part of it.” For the full story from Southern Voice, go here.

Matthew Mitcham’s Olympic debut

imageIt appears that Matthew Mitcham, the Aussie diver with the highest-profile of the 10 gay athletes at the Oympics, will make his debut on Aug. 18 when the Men's 3m springboard preliminaries open. The finals take place the next day. Mitcham's other event, the 10m platform, opens Aug. 22, according to a schedule of events. Give credit to NBC, whose bio of Mitcham doesn't shy away from his sexual orientation or the struggle to have his boyfriend attend the Beijing Games.

Who’s got the best Olympic abs?

imageThanks to some enterprising web editor at NBC, the network's Olympic web site includes a fun feature called "Ab fab: Guess the swimmer." It's a collection of eight of the hot swimmers at the Beijing Games -- including Andrew Lauterstein, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps -- first in a photo showing just their torso and then shifting to a full shot. Play along and see if you can guess which abs belong to which swimmer. Hat tip to Outsports, which has set up a blog covering the Games.

Gay jocks reach 10 in Beijing

The list of gay jocks taking part in the Beijing Olympics is now up to 10, thanks to a running tally by Outsports. That's a jump from the six reported earlier this week. The list is dominated by lesbians and includes just one gay man, Aussie swimmer Matthew Mitcham.

Gay Olympians face rough terrain

imageWith the Olympics opening tonight, Southern Voce explores the event and gay jocks who have taken part. Included in the cover story is an interview with Bruce Hayes (photo), the former Atlantan who won gold in the 1984 Games.
“I think I had the same kind of fears that anyone coming out has, particularly since it was 24 years ago, but I think the environment actually made it worse,” Hayes said. “When you’re in an athletic environment, when you live in that environment year-round, there’s just not a comfort level of coming out and sharing that kind of information with people.”
A closeted Olympian who won silver in 2004 also speaks out. And the paper includes a story on what gay tourists and athletes can expect in Beijing. The Beijing Games offers six openly gay athletes who will join the list of 19 former Olympians who are gay.

Six openly gay jocks head to Olympics

imageCount 'em. It won't take long. The list of openly gay athletes taking part in the Beijing Olympics stops at six, led by the most prominent of the bunch, Aussie swimmer Matthew Mitcham (photo). Why is the list getting so short? After all, there were 11 in Athens in 2004 and seven four years earlier in Sydney. Jim Buzinski, co-founder of Outsports, explores why the list is getting ever shorter.

Phelps says yes to plaid

imageWhile half-listening to Brian Williams read the news on NBC last night, I perked up when the chatter turned to the Olympics. I was well rewarded. The piece about the games made mention of Michael Phelps arriving in Beijing and attempting to quietly make his way to the Water Cube for practice. Phelps was sporting a not-so-cute new mustache (what is it with pro jocks and their outdated facial hair?) and an oh-so-very-cute plaid swimsuit. Nothing like going for a record eight golds at one Games in style. Ah, yes. Seventeen days of Olympic beauty. For more on the Olympics, check out a new blog from Outsports.

Gay diver has one goal in mind

imageThe current issue of the Advocate includes a profile of Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, one of the few openly gay athletes to compete in the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
Should he win, Mitcham will join the very small club of openly gay Olympic gold medalists. But as significant as that moment would be for gay athletes everywhere, Mitcham has only one goal in mind. “I just want to be known as the Australian diver who did really well at the Olympics,” he says. “It’s everybody else who thinks it’s special when homosexuality and elite sport go together.”
Mitcham came out in May when a reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald asked whom he lived with. Mitcham nonchalantly said his partner of two years – and the media started. (Hat tip to Outsports) Speaking of gay Olympians, Gay Sports Blog has compiled a list of 19 gay athletes who have captured Olympic medals in the modern ear of the international competition. Among the names on the list is that of former Atlantan Bruce Hayes, a swimmer who won gold in 1984.

Greg Louganis as ‘Legendary Olympian’

image Gay former diver Greg Louganis is one of the eight “Legendary Olympians” included in an interactive feature by the New York Times. Louganis, who captured medals in the 1976, 1984 and 1988 Olympics, discusses his Olympic performances, HIV and the infamous whack on the head.

It’s time to prepare for the Olympics

With the Olympics just a few weeks away – Aug. 8 is the start, in fact – it’s time for a primer on developments surrounding the event.

Swimmer stares down Olympics, testicular cancer

The personal stories are always the most compelling aspect of the Olympics. Well, that and hot jocks stuffed into outfits that show off their muscled assets. But stick with me, here.

Speedo’s quest for a sexless Olympics

The race is on to suit up swimmers for the Beijing Summer Games.

That’s good news for competitors squeezed into Speedo’s LZR Racer, who have broken 38 world records since its introduction in February, and bad news for fans of the hunk factor found at every Olympics.

Speedo’s technological marvel, though, is – excuse the pun – causing waves in the swimming world, dividing those who favor the suit and the alleged two percent advantage it delivers against those who argue the application of thin polyurethane panels on the Racer breaks the rules.

For years, the trend was to make swimsuits that covered as little skin as possible - high-cut legs and wide-open backs for women, tiny boomerang-shaped numbers for men. But allowing bodysuits before the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000 reversed that trend, increasing the potential for new technology.

For its work on the LZR Racer, Speedo conducted tests on a host of materials with NASA wind tunnels used to determine surface friction on spacecrafts re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The swimsuit features a "compression zone" around the torso and other parts of the body, allowing swimmers to conserve energy by reducing muscle and skin vibration.

Michael Phelps (photo right) wears the Racer; in fact, he was one of the Olympians that helped roll it out in February. French swimmer Alain Bernard (photo above) also sports the suit. Both cases highlight my argument that although the Racer makes swimmers faster, it makes them a whole lot less sexy.

If we can’t enjoy – and by enjoy, I mean see – the bulges and ripples that make men’s swimming events in the Olympics so sexy, then what’s the point?

Preppy goes the Olympics

A handful of attractive members of the U.S. Olympic team modeled the new Ralph Lauren designed clothing line for the upcoming Olympics on Tuesday. The photo session in New York provided the first public public peek at the new threads.

In a word: preppy.

In early April, Ralph Lauren Polo announced an agreement to outfit the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams and hinted that they were taking things in a decidedly Polo way. On Tuesday, they offered boxer Deontay Wilder, rower Giuseppe Lanzone (photo above) and Brianna Glenn, a track and field athlete, in the new clothes.

The looks included village wear and an outfit for the closing ceremonies. What the athletes will wear for the opening ceremonies isn’t expected to be unveiled until the day of the event.

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Speedo offers new skin for the Olympics

UPDATE: At the end of the post.

phelpsx-large.jpgIn a nod that swimming events during the Summer Olympics will be, well, less revealing, Speedo this week introduced its LZR Racer, an overpriced and colorless unitard swimsuit that might make Michael Phelps faster but certainly also makes him look a whole lot less sexy.

And that’s a shame.

Phelps, expected to make a run for seven golds in the Beijing Olympics, helped unveil the suit, speedo_phelps.jpgpronounced Laser Racer, during a press conference Tuesday. Phelps gets a $1 million bonus from Speedo if he wins those seven golds, a record held by Mark Spitz.

Speedo claims the suit has 10 percent less drag than the Fastskin it launched before the 2004 Olympics. It features three pieces instead of 30, with the seams ultrasonically welded together instead of sewn. No doubt some of the reduction in drag comes from the reduction in package protrusions from the male swimmers who wear it, an observation made by the reader of a USA Today story about the product:

Apparently this suit turns its wearer into an anatomically neutral Ken doll. Lord.

Speedo is selling a basic version for us non-Olympians on its Web site, where advance orders are being taken for $550. Here’s hoping members of the Atlanta Rainbow Trout stay firmly tucked in their red Speedos.

The New York Times dissed the suit in a piece this morning, while gay blog Kenneth in the (212) also weighed in. Thanks to the boys at Lab Monkey Design for alerting us.

phelps.jpgUPDATE: Our friends at Outsports.com also took notice of the new one-piece. Their conclusion:

The all-body swimsuit is one of the great abominations ever invented by man.

And thanks to Jim Buzinski, one of the site's co-founders, for digging up a photo of Phelps that reminds us why use of the swimming unitard is such a bad thing.