We first heard about South African archer Karen Hultzer two weeks ago. We had published a story about nine openly gay and lesbian Olympians, and a reader said we should reach out to her. When we got hold of Hultzer, she was wary of talking for fear that she might get distracted by more media attention ahead of the potential conclusion of her competition on Aug. 3. It's understandable: We always recommend athletes come out during their off-season for that very reason.
Before the Olympic Games, her partner had told South African Web site Mamba Online that Hultzer is a lesbian:
Her partner, Tracey Kim Saunders, told Mambaonline that Hultzer is happy to be identified as a gay athlete.
We didn't include her on our list of out Olympians, as she had not publicly acknowledged her sexual orientation. Until now.
Hultzer was kind enough to reach back out to us today after realizing the cat was out of the bag. She told us to "go wild." She also gave Outsports her first public statement about her sexual orientation:
"I am an archer, middle aged and a lesbian. I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am, they are simply part of me. I am fortunate that my sexual identity is not an issue, and I don’t suffer the level of discrimination and violence that black lesbians in South Africa do. I look forward to the day when this is a non-issue and as relevant as my eye color or favorite sushi."
Hultzer now increases the number of out Olympians to 22. She is only the second South African Summer Olympian to come out, following beach volleyballer Leigh-Ann Naidoo in 2004. She is the first archer to do so.
Hultzer was eliminated from individual competition on Monday in the round of 64. She lost to Pia Lionetti of Italy, 6-2. South Africa did not compete in the team competition, as she was the only South African competing.