By Dirk Smith, M.Sc, SDL (He/Him)
As the Olympics kicked off on Friday, the 160+ out LGBTQIA+ athletes competing in Tokyo are quickly establishing themselves as a competitive force to be reckon with.
During the Opening Ceremonies, six LGBTQIA+ athletes represented and led their countries into the stadium as the official flagbearer. This includes sailor Cecilia Caranza (Argentina), shooter Andri Eleftheriou (Cyprus), swimmer Ari-Pekka Liukkonen (Finland), boxer Kellie Harrington (Ireland), basketball player Sue Bird (USA), and track and field athlete Yulimar Rojas (Venezuela).
Kicking off the opening ceremonies with six LGBTQIA+ flag bearers was a great start for Team LGBTQIA+ and now within the first few days, it has only gotten better.
For Team USA Softball, which includes three out athletes (Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester and Haylie McCleney) as well as Taylor Edwards on reserve, the competition started before the opening ceremonies on July 21st. Coming into the competition as the gold medal favorite, Team USA launched their quest for a fourth Olympic gold with victory over Italy in their first game and quickly swept through victories against Canada and Mexico. However, things weren’t looking too good for their match against Australia who was in the lead but Team USA had a tying run on second when McLeney stepped up to bat. Carda serving as the ghost runner, McCleney delivered an infield single, getting to first and putting Carda into a good position to score. Chidester then stepped up to bat, whipped a fastball down left field allowing Carda to score a tying run and McCleney coming into home to clench Team USA’s victory. In addition, this is Chidester’s second game winning hit in the last three games as the whole team mobbed her at second base to celebrate their win. While Team USA has more games coming up, things are looking quite strong in softball going forward.
AMANDA CHIDESTER CALLED GAME ‼️
— On Her Turf (@OnHerTurf) July 25, 2021
In even more softball news, Chidester’s fiancée, Anissa Urtez is playing for the Mexican national team and scored the first ever home run in Mexican National Softball Team history. In their opening match with Japan, Mexico was trailing o-1 when Urtez blasted a pitch right down center field and overall the wall, tying Mexico with Japan and sending Urtez’s teammates pouring out of the dugout to celebrate at home plate.
History for Mexico!
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) July 22, 2021
In soccer news, Canadian soccer played, Quinn, makes history as the first openly trans athlete to officially compete at the Olympics. Like softball, the soccer competition also started on July 21st with Canada going up against Japan that ended in a 1-1 draw. The game became the first Olympic event in history to have an openly transgender athlete compete as Quinn, a midfielder, came out as trans last year.
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The honor of Team LGBTQIA+’s first gold medal goes to diver Tom Daley who took to the platform in the 10-meter synchronized dive with his diving partner, Matty Lee, and leaped off right into Olympic glory. The result was a stunning win despite their rivals, China’s Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen being the gold medal favorites, Daley and Lee took the lead by 1.23 points in the six-dive event. This is Daley’s first gold medal as the Olympic heartthrob, who competed both in the 2012 and 2016 games that won him two bronzes, celebrated with a mixture of stunning disbelief and elation.
We’re only three days in from the opening ceremonies and LGBTQIA+ Olympians are already making history. We can’t way to see what happens next.