Karen Hultzer at the recent airport
send-off for the SA Olympic team.
The number of known openly gay and lesbian athletes who are competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games has slowly risen in the past few days as more have come forward.
The most recent to do so is proudly lesbian Cape Town based archer Karen Hultzer, who will be representing South Africa at the Games.
Hultzer began archery in 2007 and competed in her first National tournament in March 2008. She won a silver medal at the 2008 Nationals and a Gold medal at the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Nationals.
She first represented South Africa at the Archery World Cup in Shanghai, China in August 2009 and subsequently represented the country at the World Championships and other World Cup stages.
Her partner, Tracey Kim Saunders, told Mambaonline that Hultzer is happy to be identified as a gay athlete.
Hultzer brings the total of known openly gay athletes from around the world at the London Games to 21.
In the Beijing Games (2008) there were 10 openly gay or lesbian athletes and in Athens (2004) there were 11.
Almost all the athletes on the 2012 list are from Europe, the US and Australia; reflecting the continued challenges and stigma faced by many LGBT people in other parts of the world.
Hultzer is the only openly gay competitor from the African continent. A Facebook page has been set up to support her at the London Games. You can view it here.
According to Outsports.com, the other twenty openly gay 2012 Olympic contestants are:
Matthew Mitcham (Australia, diving); Edward Gal (Netherlands, equestrian); Lisa Raymond (US, doubles tennis); Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling); Seimone Augustus (US, basketball); Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing); Megan Rapinoe (US. soccer); Marilyn Agliotti (Netherlands, field hockey); Carl Hester (Britain, equestrian); Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (Netherlands, field hockey).
Mayssa Pessoa (Brazil, handball); Rikke Skov (Denmark, handball); Maartje Paumen (Netherlands, field hockey); Natalie Cook (Australia, beach volleyball); Alexandra LacrabÃ¨re (France, handball); Jessica LandstrÃ¶m (Sweden, soccer); Hedvig Lindahl (Sweden, soccer); Lisa Dahlkvist (Sweden, soccer); and Carole PÃ©on (France, triathlon) and Jessica Harrison (France, triathlon). PÃ©on and Harrison are a couple.