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Locals win big at EuroGames

Despite event disorganization, swimmers triumph in Stockholm

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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

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Thomas Xavier

    August 16, 2015 at 7:12 pm

    There aren’t many of these national events for LGBT athletes to compete in – its a shame that EuroGames did not have their act together. Cities should not host an event if they are not prepared to provide the proper facilities & organizations should not take on the task if they are not prepared to organize it right. The future is still bright for LGBT sports and national competitive events – glad the athletes had a great time and way to go DC athletes!!

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Washington Football Team embraces Pride Night Out

‘Football is for everyone’

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The first-ever Pride Night OUT at the Washington Football Team is set for Thursday.

Team DC launched its ‘Night OUT’ series in 2005 as an LGBTQ community night with the Washington Nationals. 

Over the years, they added events with other local professional sports teams – DC United, Washington Mystics, Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Kastles, Washington Spirit, Old Glory DC, Washington Prodigy and Citi Open.

On Thursday, Sept. 16, Team DC will host the first annual Pride Night OUT at the Washington Football Team marking their first partnership with the National Football League.

“We had tried reaching out in the past but eventually made the decision that we would not engage until the name was changed,” says Brent Minor, founder and executive director of Team DC. “We don’t want these community nights to just be a monetary transaction, we want to build bridges and encourage inclusion.”

This week’s game is the Washington Football Team’s Week 2 matchup against the New York Giants and will be televised on Thursday Night Football. 

Along with Pride Night OUT, it will also be a celebration of Latinx Heritage Month and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell, who was a pioneer and trailblazer for equality and civil rights during his years with the team as a player and executive.

Frontline workers from the LGBTQ community including Whitman-Walker Health, Food & Friends and medical providers will be recognized and there will be a performance by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington’s gospel ensemble of ‘Lift Every Voice.’

The new relationship with the Washington Football Team began when they reached out to Capital Pride and Team DC with a request for a cultural competency training for WFT staffers.

“We spoke with about 75 members of their staff, and it wasn’t just a window dressing exercise — people were engaged,” Minor says. “During the training, Night OUT came up, which led to a discussion on corporate perspective regarding the LGBTQ community.”

Another cultural competency training is expected to occur in the future and the Washington Football Team has pledged to have a yet to be determined role at Capital Pride in 2022.

In August 2020, former NFL player Jason Wright was hired by the Washington Football Team to become their team president, where he leads their business operations, financing, and marketing strategies. 

“We went through a leadership change when Jason Wright was hired and the direction of our outreach will be much broader than it was in the past,” says Joey Colby-Begovich, vice president of guest experience, operations for the Washington Football Team. “We want to be intentional in celebrating our communities beyond the traditional football fans and that includes people of color and marginalized communities. Football is for everyone.”

The DMV region is comprised of a broad spectrum of people who represent the changing demographics of our country. Establishing connections to communities where people from different backgrounds and sexual orientations can find commonality is important for any organization interested in social responsibility.

“We are hoping that we can cultivate a broader fan base that feels safe and comfortable in our space. That includes stronger and deeper relationships with our communities and opportunities in our employee base — we want to be involved in the discussion,” Colby-Begovich says. “The support that we shared for Carl Nassib coming out is an example of our direction. There is change happening.”

The excitement is palpable from the D.C. LGBTQ community as more than 100 tickets have already been sold for the inaugural Pride Night OUT at the Washington Football Team.

“I think back to the beginning when we first established a relationship with the Washington Nationals. Years later after the mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, they reached out and asked, ‘What can we do,’” says Minor. “Establishing these relationships is important and who knows where this leads when you are embraced in a positive way? When you can break down a barrier between the LGBTQ community and the NFL, that’s rarefied air.”

Tickets for Pride Night OUT at the Washington Football Team can be found at teamdc.org.

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If a nation? ‘Team LGBTQ’ ranked 11th in medal tally at Tokyo Olympics

182 publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and nonbinary athletes were in Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games

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Los Angeles Blade Graphic

TOKYO – Delayed by the coronavirus pandemic by one year and then held under tight restrictions including no spectators or cheering fans in the stands, the Tokyo Olympics drew to a close Sunday with one group of athletes, LGBTQ+ Olympian competitors, having made historic gains.

Affectionately labeled “Team LGBTQ” by OutSports magazine, at least 182 publicly out gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and nonbinary athletes were in Tokyo for the Summer Olympic Games, more than triple the number who participated at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games, the magazine reported.

“In fact, if the LGBTQ Olympians competed as their own country — affectionately labeled “Team LGBTQ” by Outsports — they would rank 11thin the total medal count (right behind France and before Canada), with 32 team and individual medals: 11 gold, 12 silver and nine bronze,” reflected NBC Out.

30 different countries were represented by at least one publicly out LGBTQ+ athlete covering 34 sports, including the first trans Olympians, Team New Zealand’s weightlifter, Team USA’s Reserve BMX racer Chelsea Wolfe, and Team Canada’s Quinn, the 25-year-old, soccer player who goes by a single name and uses the pronouns “they” and “their.”

The most notable Olympic medal win was that of Canadian Women’s Soccer midfielder Quinn, who became the first openly transgender, non-binary athlete to win an Olympic gold medal in another trailblazing moment at the Tokyo Games for the marginalised LGBTQ+ community.

Photo via Instagram

In another Olympic triumph, 27-year-old British diver Tom Daley secured his first Olympic Gold medal alongside teammate Matty Lee winning the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving narrowly besting the defending champions, China’s Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen by just 1.23 points. For Daley it was his fourth career Olympic medal including a Bronze Medal won in the the Men’s 10m platform completion at Tokyo as well.

Outsports and NBC Out published the following list of medalists;

The gold medalists were Brazilian swimmer Ana Marcela Cunha for the 10-kilometer event; French martial artist Amandine Buchard for mixed team judo; Venezuelan track and field athlete Yulimar Rojas for the triple jump; Irish boxer Kellie Harrington; New Zealand rower Emma Twigg; U.S. women’s basketball team members Sue Bird, Chelsea Gray, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart and Diana Taurasi; American 3-on-3 basketball player Stefanie Dolson; Canadian women’s soccer team members Quinn, Kadeisha Buchanan, Erin McLeod, Kailen Sheridan and Stephanie Labbe; French handball players Amandine Leynaud and Alexandra Lacrabère; New Zealand rugby players Gayle Broughton, Ruby Tui, Kelly Brazier and Portia Woodman; and, of course, British diver Tom Daley, who finally took home the gold for synchronized diving at his fourth Games.

NBC Out’s Dan Avery noted that after she earned silver for the Philippines, featherweight boxer Nesthy Petecio told reporters, “I am proud to be part of the LGBTQ community,” according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer

“Let’s go, fight!” she added. “This fight is also for the LGBTQ community.”

“The presence and performance of these out athletes has been a huge story at these Games,” Outsports founder Cyd Zeigler told NBC Out in an email. “30% of all the out LGBTQ Olympians in Tokyo won a medal, which means they didn’t just show up, they also performed at a very high level.”

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Out British diver Tom Daley takes Bronze medal in men’s 10m platform

“I owe this medal to so many people. I’m standing on the podium but there are so many people behind the medal.”

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British Olympic Diver Tom Daley wins Bronze via Team Great Britain Twitter

KASAI RINKAI PARK, Tokyo- After tough competition in the Men’s 10m platform diving from China’s Cao Yuan who picked up the Gold Medal and his teammate Yang Jian cinching the number two spot with a Silver Medal, 27-year-old British diver Tom Daley secured a Bronze Medal win with a score of 548.25

This is the second Olympic Bronze Medal for the Plymouth, England native, in individual diving completion since he won bronze at the London Games in 2012. Daley and his teammate Daniel Goodfellow won a Bronze Medal in the 10m synchronised at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

With this Bronze win, it will be his fourth overall career Olympic Games medal win after taking the Gold two weeks ago in the Tokyo games along with his British teammate diving partner Matty Lee. Daley and Lee winning the gold with a score of 471.81 in the men’s synchronized diving narrowly besting the defending champions, China’s Cao Yuan and Chen Aisen by just 1.23 points.

During a post event press conference Daley said; “I am so happy that this Olympics has gone the way it has. I feel like a different athlete, I feel like I’ve been through so many different things over the years.”

“At the end of May, I didn’t even know if I was going to make it to these Games. I tore my meniscus and had knee surgery, I always dreamed I’d be fit enough to come back and dive at these Olympics,” he continued adding, “If someone had told me I was going to win a gold and a bronze, I probably would have laughed in their face. I owe this medal to so many people. I’m standing on the podium but there are so many people behind the medal.”

Reflecting on his medal win the diver noted, “Once you’re in the final, that’s what I love. I love competition when it counts, there was great competition with the two Chinese divers, they pulled away when I missed it a little bit on the fourth dive,” the apparently thrilled Daley smiled and added, “I’m extremely happy to come away with another Olympic medal.”

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