We’re a few days into the 2020 Summer Olympics, and they earned the designation as the most LGBTQ Olympics yet before a single sport was sported. A record 166 (and still growing) number of out LGBTQ athletes are set to compete in Tokyo, and some have already staked their claim at Olympic glory early into the event’s first week.
The headliner thus far is British diver Tom Daley. The two-time Olympic bronze medalist pulled off a stunning victory Monday, capturing his first gold medal alongisde diving partner Matty Lee in the 10-meter synchronized diving event. The duo narrowly edged out event favorites Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen of China, snagging the top of the podium by a 1.23 point margin.
But the true importance of Daley’s win came in the post-event press conference. Daley took time to address the large LGBTQ presence at the Tokyo games and his own journey as an out gay man in sports.
“There are more out LGBT athletes at this Olympic Games than any Olympic Games previously. I came out in 2013, December 2013. When I was younger I was always the one who felt alone, alone and different, there was something about me that was never going to be as good as society wanted to be,” Daley said.
“I hope that any young LGBT person out there see that no matter how alone you feel right now, that you are not alone and you can achieve anything. There is a whole lot of your chosen family out here ready to support you,” he added. “I feel incredibly proud to say I am a gay man and also an Olympic champion. I feel very empowered by that.”
Sticking with the pool, Canadian swimmer Markus Thormeyer helped his 4×100 freestyle relay team set a Canadian record for the event. The squad barely missed a bronze medal thanks solely to Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers’ ungodly freestyle swimming speed, but a national record is a great accomplishment nonetheless.
Out French judoka Amandine Buchard captured the silver medal in Judo’s half lightweight division Sunday, succumbing to Japan’s Ute Aba. Buchard looked dominant throughout the tournament, including a 16-second victory over Swiss judoka Fabienne Kocher in the semifinals.
Skateboarding made its Olympic debut on Sunday with multiple LGBTQ competitors in the women’s events, including non-binary athlete Alana Smith. Their Team USA teammate Alexis Sablone was the only LGBTQ skater to advance to the women’s skateboarding street final and missed a bronze medal by less than a point. Coming so close is bittersweet, but knowing she performed so well against skaters ranging from a decade younger than her to nearly half her age gives her plenty of bragging rights.
And finally, LGBTQ athletes are all over the medal round in softball scheduled for Tuesday. Canada (Larissa Franklin, Joey Lye) and Mexico (Anissa Urtez) will square off in the bronze medal game. Team USA (Ally Carda, Amanda Chidester, Haylie McCleney, Taylor Edwards) took on Japan in the gold-medal game, but the host-country team took the gold, Team USA got silver.