Blake Skjellerup (Pic: DNA magazine)

New Zealand short track Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup has come out as gay in a new interview with Australian magazine DNA.

In the interview, Skjellerup – who lives and trains in Canada – said that fellow athletes at the February Vancouver Olympics knew about his sexuality and that he didn’t face any discrimination from them.

“The first real issue was that I was there to compete – to focus on my skating – and to not have the focus on my sexuality,” he said.

The 24 year old athlete added, however: “We are not yet at the point in society where being a gay sportsperson is not a big deal. If I was asked during any of my twenty-something interviews at the Olympics whether I had a boyfriend or a girlfriend – in the same sentence – I would have replied honestly, but I may have replied hesitantly.”

Skjellerup revealed that he walked around the Olympic village holding hands with his boyfriend (an unnamed fellow athlete), and visited PRIDE House; a gay-friendly space at the games.

“I was a bit shocked that I was the first competing gay athlete from these Olympics to visit [Pride House], especially since I wasn’t able to make it there (owing to scheduling conflicts) until after I had finished competing.

“Gays are too often given a stereotype. Back when I was 18, and becoming serious about my sport and my Olympic goals, if I could have seen an athlete like myself out there – with whom I could relate to – my journey would have been a lot easier,” he said.

According to the official New Zealand Winter Olympics website, Skjellerup first competed for New Zealand when he was twelve years old and is country’s Speed Skater of the Year and the New Zealand Junior Maori Sportsman of the Year.

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