Ireen Wüst after her win at the 2014 Winter Olympics
One of the seven openly-LGBT athletes taking part in the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Russia has won a gold medal.
On Sunday, bisexual speed skater Ireen Wüst from the Netherlands beat defending champion Martina Sablikova to score a gold medal in the women’s 3,000 meters.
This is the third gold medal that the 27-year-old has won in three consecutive Winter Games, including Vancouver in 2010 and Torino in 2006.
Wüst later told Dutch national broadcaster NOS that surprisingly she was given a hug by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a post-victory party in her honour.
“He congratulated me and asked if everything was OK in Russia and I congratulated him on (Russian speedskater) Olga Graf, of course, for her third place (in the 3,000 meters). He was happy to see me, but then he had to leave again. But I cuddled him,” she said.
Wüst came out in 2009 when she revealed that she was bisexual and had a girlfriend, speed skater Sanne van Kerkhof, but has avoided discussing her sexuality since. She reportedly later broke up with van Kerkhof and went into a relationship with a man.
According to Outsports, there are only seven openly-LGBT Winter Olympians in Sochi, all of whom are women. Other than Wüst, these are:
Belle Brockhoff: An Australian snowboarder
Anatasia Bucsis: A Canadian speed skater
Daniela Iraschko-Stolz: An Austrian ski jumper
Barbara Jezeršek: A Slovenian cross country skier
Cheryl Maas: A Dutch snowboarder
Sanne van Kerkhof: A Dutch short track speedskater
While some of these athletes have been outspoken about LGBT rights in Russia, others have been less so. Ski jumper Iraschko-Stolz, for example, told reporters that the issue has been blown out of proportion.
“Naturally you have to look at it from a different point of view and always be critical, but especially in my situation, I don’t want to talk too much about it,” she said. “I think you can make a statement by jumping well.”
According to Gay Star News, snowboarder Cheryl Maas earlier wore a rainbow glove during her event, while snowboarder Belle Brockhoff said that she will hold up six fingers to the camera, representing Principle Six; the anti-discrimination principle in the Olympic Charter.