This is the first openly gay man to win gold at the Winter Olympics


Eric Radford / Instagram

Canadian figure skater Eric Radford has become the first openly gay man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games.

On Sunday, the victorious Radford and his skating partner Meagan Duhamel took the top spot in the free skate programme at the Gangneung Ice Arena in South Korea.

“This is amazing! I literally feel like I might explode with pride. #Olympics #outandproud”, he wrote on Twitter after winning his medal.

The duo had a little help from Adele, who provided the music to their routine with her song Hometown Glory.

“If you have the wrong piece of music and it doesn’t connect with the audience or the judges, it doesn’t really matter how great you skate, you’re gonna be missing something,” the 33-year old told CBC Radio.

Until South Korea, no athlete had previously participated in the Winter Games as an openly gay man (there are four this year).

Radford competed in the Games at Sochi, in Russia, and won a silver medal, but he wasn’t out at the time. He came out at the end of 2014 in an interview with Outsports, in which he said that being gay had its advantages with regard to his partnership on the ice with Duhamel.

“A lot of pairs end up dating one another. It can become risky because your on-ice training can be affected by your off-ice relationship,” he said. “If you have a fight at home, it makes that training difficult. I used to joke around that I’m the ultimate pair-boy. I never had to worry about developing an off-ice relationship.”

Radford got engaged to his boyfriend, Spanish ice dancer Luis Fenero, in June last year.

Other LGBT athletes are also making their mark in South Korea. Adam Rippon, 28, from the USA won a bronze in the team skating event in his Olympic debut.

Rippon earlier made headlines when he criticised Vice President Mike Pence as unsuitable to head up the American delegation to the Games due to the politician’s anti-LGBT views. Rippon also said he had no interest in meeting Pence.

Ireen Wüst, 31, the bisexual speed skater from the Netherlands, broke Olympic records when she added another two medals to her previous stash of eight medals (four golds, three silvers and one bronze). She won gold in the Women’s 1500m race and a bronze in the 3000m. This makes Wüst the most decorated Olympic speed skater of all time.

There are around 13 openly-queer contenders in the Games, up from seven at the 2014 Winter Olympic in Sochi. The Summer Olympic Games, which is a much larger event, sported 56 out Olympians in Rio in 2016.

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