Caster Semenya & Sunette Viljoen
More than half of the 53 openly LGBT athletes who took part in the Rio Olympics won a medal; a larger haul than any country that criminalises homosexuality.
According to OutSports, taking into account the medals handed out for team sports (for example, gold medals were won by four out women on the US basketball team), that equates to 14 wins for Team LGBT.
“Those 14 medals beat every single country that criminalises sex between people of the same gender,” wrote the site’s Cyd Zeigler.
Jamaica, where gay sex is illegal, came closest to matching Team LGBT with its 11 medals.
“The lesson should be clear: If you want your population to thrive, including in the world of athletics, let them be free,” commented Zeigler.
The record-breaking 53 openly LGBT athletes were the largest number to ever take part in any modern Olympic Games. Undoubtedly, there were many more LGBT participants we don’t know about, but some may not be out of the closet while others may have simply not been picked up by the media.
South Africa stood out as the only African nation to boast two such athletes, both of whom scored medal wins: Runner Caster Semenya (gold) and javelin thrower Sunette Viljoen (silver).
Some have questioned why we at Mambaonline have highlighted the sexuality of these athletes, arguing that this should be irrelevant.
We disagree. In a world, and on a continent, especially, with very few LGBT role models we believe it is our responsibility to show that members of our community can be world class achievers. We make no apology for celebrating their successes and cheering them on at every opportunity.
Gay Star News has listed these LGBT athletes who returned home with Olympic medals:
• Caster Semenya (South Africa) – 800m run
• Nicola Adams (Great Britain) – Boxing 51kg weight class
• Kate & Helen Richardson-Walsh and Susannah Townsend (Great Britain) – Field hockey
• Rafaela Silva (Brazil) – Judo 57kg weight class
• Seimone Augustus, Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner and Angel McCoughtry (USA) – Basketball
• Carl Hester (Great Britain) – Dressage
• Sunette Viljoen (South Africa) – Javelin
• Lisa Dahlkvist, Nilla Fisher, Hedvig Lindahl and Carolina Seger (Sweden) – Soccer
• Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel and Maartje Paumen (Netherlands) – Field Hockey
• Rachele Bruni (Italy) – Swimming 10km
• Spencer Wilton (Great Britain) – Dressage
• Tom Daley (Great Britain) – Diving
• Stephanie Labbe & Marie-Eve Nault (Canada) – Women’s Soccer
• Jen Kish (Canada) – Women’s Rugby