We at Outsports have identified 104 openly gay and lesbian Summer Olympians over the years. Some of them were out while competing, others came out after their Games. An astonishing 53 of them -- over 50 percent -- have won a medal. That's an incredible percentage and far exceeds the average of all athletes who have taken home Olympic hardware.
This year, we may be on pace for a similar performance. There are 23 publicly out Olympians we know of in London, though the number keeps growing. Already, two out athletes -- German cyclist Judith Arndt (silver) and American tennis player Lisa Raymond (bronze) -- have won medals. And while a number of out Olympians have been eliminated from competition, many others are positioned for a medal.
- Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. soccer team has had a strong Olympic performance so far. The team is 4-0 and has won those matches by a combined score of 10-2. Rapinoe scored one of the team's goals in their Group A match against Colombia. They only need to beat Canada, or win their final game, to earn a medal.
- Staying with dominant Americans, it's unfathomable to believe Seimone Augustus of Team USA basketball won't win a medal. The Americans have dominated the competition with an average winning margin approaching 40. They also play Canada in their next playoff game.
- While the straight men are falling in love with the Dutch field hockey team, at least four of them are lesbians. They are having a great tournament and have an excellent shot at a medal. They cap off their group play today against the Brits. Either way, they'll have a nice seed in the tournament.
- Two out handballers - Mayssa Pessoa of Brazil and Alexandra Lacrabere of France - are into the semifinals with their teams.
- Equestrian riders Carl Hester and Edward Gal are each poised to win a medal in team dressage.
- And then there's Matthew Mitcham, who dives at the end of this week. Though he's the defending gold medalist in the 10-meter platform, he has an uphill climb due to injuries over the last year. Still, as Usain Bolt proved, a champion has a way of rising to the challenge on the biggest stages.
One reason for success of these athletes could be what we hear from out gay and lesbian athletes all the time: Once they come out publicly, such a burden is lifted from their shoulders that they are able to focus more on their sport. When your mind isn't busy figuring out how to keep a secret, it just leaves more room to perform.
It could also be that the gay and lesbian athletes we know of are good at their sport because the high-level athletes are the only ones comfortable coming out. We don't know about the closeted kayaker or fencer who got eliminated in the first day of competition. Though, archer Karen Hultzer's coming out certainly defies that, as she was eliminated early in her competition.
Or maybe gays and lesbians are just better athletes than their straight counterparts. For whatever reason, it's in our genes to jump higher, kick harder and run faster than the straights. At some point after the Games, the medal tally for gay and lesbian Olympians in these Games will increase. We know of other athletes, and they're winning medals. Given over half of the gay and lesbian Olympians we know of are medal-winners, surely this just means we're just better at sports!
Or not. Whatever the reason, the out Olympians in London are succeeding at a high level. Let's hope they keep it up!
Usain Bolt Wins Gold in 100m - Track and Field Weekend Highlights - 2012 Olympics (via sbnation)