Connect with us

Sports

Locals win big at EuroGames

Despite event disorganization, swimmers triumph in Stockholm

Published

on

EuroGames, gay news, Washington Blade
EuroGames, gay news, Washington Blade

Members of the D.C. Aquatics Club took home 125 medals from the EuroGames. (Photo courtesy Kevin Majoros)

Athletes from three of the local LGBT sports teams returned home this week from the 2015 EuroGames in Stockholm, Sweden. About 30 swimmers, 12 water polo players and two bowlers from D.C. competed in the event which attracted more than 5,000 athletes from 51 countries who contested events in 27 sports.

For the swimmers, the event also doubled as the annual International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships. After the races in the pool ended, the District of Columbia Aquatics Club (DCAC) was in possession of 125 medals.

The Washington Wetskins Water polo players got off to a rough start but finished strong to take fifth place in the competitive division of water polo.

DCAC awarded multiple scholarships to swimmers on the team to assist in the costs associated with international travel. One of the recipients was 22-year-old Kevin Muehleman who is from Dallas and attended college at Louisiana State University. He moved to D.C. in February and joined the DCAC team the next month. The EuroGames marked his first time competing in the pool since high school, though he did swim the two-mile open water race in the DCAC hosted Swim for Life in July.

“I didn’t play sports while I was in college,” says Muehleman, who is working in the MBA office of admissions at Georgetown University. “It has been great being a part of the DCAC team and getting back into shape.”

Meuhleman’s youthful exuberance hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates who have dubbed him with the nickname, Baby Kev. He says he is hoping to recruit more swimmers around his age to line up relays to help the team score points at big meets. His scholarship paid for the registration fees and air travel to Stockholm and he is already planning his trip with the team to the world championships in Edmonton, Canada in 2016.

“This has been a great experience and I finally got to know my teammates. There isn’t time to make these connections in practice,” Muehleman says. “It is going to be much more fun going forward now that I have some history with the team.”

LGBT multi-sport events such as the EuroGames, the Gay Games and the OutGames are well known for fostering positive attention for the LGBT sports movement and for human rights. It was both heartwarming and disturbing when the Russian LGBT Sport Federation marched in during the opening ceremonies which were televised live on Swedish national television.

One of the athletes had her face covered in a bandana for fear of repercussions upon returning home. Her masked presence indicates that the LGBT climate in Russia is not progressing as rapidly as the rest of the world and that much work still needs to be done. The fact that their LGBT athletes continue to participate in these events, despite what is going on in their homeland, is a positive sign.

In terms of the sports competitions at the EuroGames, Stockholm did not receive glowing reviews and there was drama at the sports venues on a daily basis. Clearly unorganized, the city was not prepared to welcome athletes from all over the world. The volleyball players refused to play at their venue because it was not regulation and there were issues with track & field, squash, basketball, dance sport, swimming and water polo.

The worst possible thing happened on Thursday night at midnight when the triathlon was cancelled just hours before it was to be held early Friday morning. Imagine dragging your expensive bike halfway across the world only to be told you can’t race. Not to mention the costs involved.

The swimming venue was complete chaos for three days. The order of swimmers was juggled right up to the moments they stepped on the blocks. Swimmers were also forced to compete two to a lane in the distance events and in those same races had to start in the water instead of going off the blocks. On day two, they moved both the long distance events (800 and 1,500 freestyles) to the same session and the swimmers were at the pool from 7 a.m.-10 p.m.

The chaos led a European team to believe they could get away with combining swimmers from their teams (which is illegal) to win a relay gold medal. They did win the gold medal and another team noticed the false representation. A protest was filed and they were stripped of their medal. That resulted in a screaming match between a female swim official and the offending male coach which progressed into a shoving match. The swimmers were ejected from the pool.

Public apologies were issued by EuroGames Stockholm for the all the venues and the Stockholm Dolphins swim team in regard to the aquatics events. Both denied any responsibility for the missteps. The bottom line is that these are amateur athletes who trained and traveled at their own expense. No one is saying that it is easy to orchestrate multi-sports events, but in this case, the athletes deserved better. Thankfully, everyone was still smiling at the closing ceremonies.

List of the DCAC medal winners:

Steve Dickens 1 Silver

Candace Crasto 4 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze

John Crowe 1 Silver

Shannon Green 2 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze

Eric Czander 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Sara Hewitt 2 Gold, 4 Silver, 2 Bronze

Wonkee Moon 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze

Lindsey Warren-Shriner 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Jay Calhoun 3 Gold, 4 Silver

Noura Hemady 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Dustin Sigward 1 Gold, 3 Silver

Craig Franz 4 Gold, 1 Silver

John Tustin 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Andrew Frampton 2 Gold, 3 Silver

Neill Williams 6 Gold, 1 Silver

Paul Quincy 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 2 Bronze

Dawson Nash 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 4 Bronze

Kevin Muehleman 1 Silver, 1 Bronze

Patrick Barrett 1 Gold, 2 Silver

Fred Dever 3 Gold, 3 Silver, 2 Bronze

Molly Lincoln 5 Gold, 1 Silver

Rob Jeter 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Jonathan Horsford 1 Silver

Sam Smedinghoff 2 Bronze

Jason Bricker 2 Silver, 1 Bronze

Kevin Majoros 1 Bronze

Rebecca Menes 1 Silver, 2 Bronze

Jeff Mead 1 Gold, 1 Bronze

Brent Quinn 1 Bronze

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Sports

Olympic champion Tom Daley ‘furious’ about bans on trans athletes

“Anyone that’s told that they can’t compete or can’t do something they love just because of who they are, it’s not ok”

Published

on

Tom Daley (Screenshot via Channel 4 UK)

Olympic diving champion Tom Daley said he is “furious” about FINA, the world swimming body, banning some transgender athletes from women’s swimming, diving, and other competitions. 

“Anyone that’s told that they can’t compete or can’t do something they love just because of who they are, it’s not OK,” Daley said to iNews at a press conference. “It’s something I feel really strongly about. Giving trans people the chance to share their side.”

Earlier this month, FINA released the new policy on eligibility, banning athletes who have experienced male puberty from women’s competitions.

FINA President Husain Al-Musallam said the new policy intended to protect athletes’ right to compete but also ensure competition fairness.

FINA intends to create an open category for athletes whose birth sex is different from their gender identity.

“This has not been done before, so FINA will need to lead the way. I want all athletes to feel included in being able to develop ideas during this process.” Al-Musallam said.

The new policy was condemned by the Human Rights Campaign, which said that requiring athletes to transition before age 12 was unrealistic and unlikely. States such as Alabama regulate young people’s access to age-appropriate gender-affirming care.

“This sudden and discriminatory decision is a blatant attack on transgender athletes who have worked to comply with longstanding policies that have allowed them to participate for years without issue,” said Joni Madison, HRC’s Interim President, “This policy is an example of swimming organizations caving to the avalanche of ill-informed, prejudiced attacks targeted at one particular transgender swimmer.”

The new policy will impact the career of trans swimmer Lia Thomas, the first trans woman to win a NCAA Division I Women’s Swimming Championship, and may prevent her from participating and competing in the female category.

Continue Reading

Sports

DC Aquatics Club swimmers reflect on world title win

Team took 125 gold medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC records

Published

on

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics world championships in Palm Springs, Calif. (Photo courtesy DCAC)

The District of Columbia Aquatics Club sent 42 swimmers to the International Gay & Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) world championships in Palm Springs, Calif., in April on a mission to capture their first world title since 2013.

It was a long road back to international competition for the DCAC swimmers after the disruption of training and travel brought on by the worldwide pandemic.

When the team returned from IGLA in Melbourne, Australia in March of 2020, their training pools were closed, and all competitions were canceled.

By May they had established a training site in the South River in Annapolis where they swam until November of that year. Eventually, pools began to reopen, and the team was faced with battling for training time in COVID-restricted pools.

Following the postponement of the 2022 Gay Games in Hong Kong, the IGLA community scrambled to put together a competition in Palm Springs that would be hosted in tandem by West Hollywood Aquatics and the Long Beach Grunions. 

DCAC’s swimmers in Palm Springs consisted of a mix of veterans and rookies ranging in age from 22 to 76 years old. Each swimmer was eligible to enter five individual events and three relay events.

With 67 teams in attendance, DCAC jumped out to an early lead on day one in the large team category with West Hollywood Aquatics and San Francisco Tsunami in close pursuit. 

Despite the disqualifications of two of their winning relays for early takeoffs, DCAC held on to their lead over the remaining three days to claim their first world title in nine years.

Three DCAC swimmers, Grant Casey, Carmen Robb and Jerry Frentsos, won gold in all five of their individual events. In total, the team won 125 gold, 66 silver and 35 bronze medals en route to breaking 72 DCAC team records.

Addison Winger was a first time IGLA swimmer and hadn’t competed in 12 years. He had heard the tales from past IGLAs and wanted to join in on the fun.

“It was a great experience to compete for DCAC at an international competition. I had never been in a championship meet before where you go through the process of tapering, shaving, and suiting up in tech gear,” says Winger. “The relays were amazing, and I enjoyed taking advice and feedback from our coaches to incorporate into future races. It was also great spending quality team with my teammates outside of the pool.”

Olivia Kisker had competed with DCAC at IGLA Melbourne in 2020 and was looking forward to traveling with her team again.

“Even though the days were long at the pool, we still had time for Joshua Tree, the gondolas and all that Palm Springs has to offer,” Kisker says. “I love traveling and doing it with your teammates provides a setting for bonding and getting to know people better. I also enjoyed competing against my teammate Sarah. It’s like a friendship and a rivalry.”

Craig Franz restarted his post-COVID competitive swimming at IGLA Palm Springs and went on to a training camp and open water race in Hawaii this past month.

“The whole thing about this team is relationships and sharing swimming as a common denominator. The swim competitions legitimize building relationships and supporting each other in healthy ways,” say Franz. “Palm Springs felt like a more relaxed setting, and we needed this meet to rebuild the team. It provided a nutritional base for what we are about – swimming and friendships.”

Sarah Padrutt had not competed since 2019 and all the talk about past IGLAs prompted her to attend for the first time.

“I had so much fun, and it was cool having people cheering and being supported by teammates,” Padrutt says. “It was also a nice wakeup call, a reminder of how much I like competing. I like the pressure of racing and being on relays with my team. It was a very positive experience.”

Charles Cockrell has been a Masters swimmer for decades and is the chair of the Legislation Committee for United States Masters Swimming. He came out in 2019 and these championships marked his first time competing at IGLA.

“I wanted to compete at a swim meet that was a combination of the LGBTQ community and the sport of swimming. It was a fun, accepting and engaging environment,” says Cockrell. “The takeaway was that everyone was enjoying themselves and it was nice to be gathered together in a queer space. There was an atmosphere of camaraderie, and it was great being attached to a big team like DCAC.”

Coming up next for DCAC is the United States Masters Swimming Nationals in Richmond in August. Next year, the team will travel to London for the 2023 IGLA world championships to be held in the London Olympic Pool.

Continue Reading

Politics

Caitlyn Jenner celebrates FINA ban on Trans swimmers on Twitter

“[…] what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted

Published

on

Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

Former Olympian and one-time California Republican gubernatorial candidate Caitlyn Jenner enraged Trans activists Monday after she tweeted her approval of the FINA vote Sunday that essentially bans Trans women from participating and competing as collegiate swimmers.

“It worked! I took a lot of heat – but what’s fair is fair! If you go through male puberty you should not be able to take medals away from females. Period,” Jenner tweeted Sunday after the international athletic organization announced its vote to ban trans athletes.

The Swimming’s world governing body voted to restrict transgender athletes from elite women’s competitions. The final vote tally of the representatives was 71.5% approval for the new policy which requires transgender athletes show that “they have not experienced any part of male puberty beyond Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later.”

“We have to protect the rights of our athletes to compete, but we also have to protect competitive fairness at our events, especially the women’s category at FINA competitions,” FINA’s president, Husain Al-Musallam, said in a statement.

The organisation is maintaining that it was necessary to use sex and sex-linked traits to determine eligibility criteria because of the “performance gap” that appears between males and females during puberty.

Jenner’s appearances on the Fox News Network over the past six months have been unrelenting attacks on Trans athletes, especially University of Pennsylvania Women’s Team swimmer Lia Thomas. Jenner also appeared on the network to defend her attacks on Trans athletes.

“We must protect women’s sports. We cannot bow down to the radical left wing woke world and the radical politically charged agenda of identity politics,” Jenner tweeted. In another tweet she said;

“Thank you @seanhannity and @HeyTammyBruce for having a conversation grounded in common sense. All we want to do is protect women’s and girls sports! It’s that simple. And calling out the libelous, defamatory lies of @PinkNews and @emilychudy@benjamincohen

Jenner has been asked about her position on the multiple pieces of anti-Trans youth sports legislation across the United States. She responded that she saw it as a question of fairness saying that she opposed biological boys who are Trans- competing in girls’ sports in school.

“It just isn’t fair,” Jenner said adding, “and we have to protect girls’ sports in our school.”

In April the Fox network hired Jenner as on-air contributor role with her first appearance on Hannity.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]