The Federation of Gay Games is honored to have many Olympians and elite non-Olympic athletes among its Ambassadors.
Dr Tom Waddell
Our “Ambassador before the Games” was of course our founder, Dr Tom Waddell. Waddell was trained as a medical doctor, and combined his passion for medicine, sport, and humanitarianism by travelling on a U.S. State Department-sponsored track and field tour of Africa in 1962. He was drafted into the Army in 1966, where he trained as a preventative-medicine officer and paratrooper. Entering a course in global medicine, he protested when he found out that he would be shipped to Vietnam. Expecting a court-martial, he was instead unexpectedly sent to train as a decathlete for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, where he placed sixth among the 33 competitors, and broke five of his own personal records in the ten events, and where he took a strong position protesting the expulsion of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, stating: “I think they have been discredited by the flag more often than they have discredited it. Our image is so bad it can’t get any worse… Maybe this will help.” This position resulted in the threat of a court martial, and ultimately a discharge from the Army. Learn more HERE.
While never competing in the Olympics, John Amaechi came out of retirement to help England earn a bronze medal in the 2006 Commonwealth Games. He has done broadcast commentary for the 2008 Olympics. He is a key member of LOCOG’s 2012 Olympic Diversity Board.
German champion cyclist Judith Arndt won the bronze medal in the 3000m pursuit event at the 1996 Olympics, while at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece she won silver in the road race.
Australia’s Michelle Ferris won two Olympic silver medals in cycling in 1996 (sprint) and 2000 (500m time trial).
American swimmer Bruce Hayes is best known as the anchor of the 4x200m freestyle relay team that won the gold medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. He joined LGBT Team New York Aquatics in 1990 and began competing again, this time in Masters swimming events. He became the first Olympic gold medalist to compete at the Gay Games when he swam at Gay Games III in Vancouver in August 1990. In 1992, Hayes became the first American Olympic gold medalist to declare his homosexuality publicly when he was profiled by Dick Schaap for ABC’s World News Tonight regarding the challenges of being gay in the sports community. He became a spokesperson for the Gay Games IV in New York City in 1994. At Gay Games IV, his swimming success continued – he set five 25-metre short course Masters World records in the 30-34 age group, including becoming the first Masters swimmer to break 4:00 in the 400-metre freestyle. Hayes worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games as the Assistant Competition Manager for Swimming at the 1996 Summer Olympics. During his time in Atlanta, he co-founded the Atlanta Rainbow Trout Masters swimming team. In 2002, Hayes became a charter member of the Gay Games Ambassadors. He attended the Gay Games’ 25th anniversary celebration in San Francisco in 2007 and presented the Federation of Gay Games’ inaugural Media Award. Hayes swam again at the 2010 Gay Games VIII in Cologne, Germany, winning a bronze in the 1500m freestyle (age 45-49).
Billie Jean King
In the mid-1990s, Billie Jean King became the captain of the United States Fed Cup team and coach of its women’s Olympic tennis squad in 1996 and 2000. She lead the US team to a medals sweep at the 1996 Games. She received the International Olympic Committee Women in Sport World Trophy in September 2003.
The FGG at Pride House 2012
Gay Games Olympian ambassadors
The Gay Games and the Olympic movement
“From Games to Games”: an invitation to Olympians
A call for equality at the Olympics: Atlanta Plus, synchronized swimming, and more
At sixteen Louganis took part in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, where he placed second in the tower event. Louganis was a favorite for two golds in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, but an American boycott of the games prevented him from participating. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, with record scores and leads over his opponents, Louganis won gold medals in both the springboard and tower diving events. He repeated his 1984 feat in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, although not without difficulties. At the time of the 1988 accident Louganis did not disclose to the public that he was infected with HIV, a diagnosis he had received six months before the Olympics. His doctor placed him on the antiretroviral drug AZT, which he took every four hours round the clock. It was 1994 when Louganis announced to the world that he was gay. He took part in the 1994 Gay Games as a diving announcer as well as putting on a diving exhibition for capacity crowd.
Australian Matthew Mitcham is the 2008 Olympic champion in the 10m platform, having received the highest single-dive score in Olympic history. He was one of few openly gay athletes at the 2008 Summer Olympics. He attended Gay Games VIII in Cologne in 2010, where he read the Athletes’ Oath at opening ceremony. He will be competing in the 2012 Olympics.
Chris Morgan is not an Olympian, but has competed at the highest level in powerlifting, a non-Olympic sport. He is unusual in that he began competition in the Gay Games, before becoming a champion in mainstream sport. He won the silver medal in the World Drug-Free Powerlifting Federation Finals in 2004, the gold medal in 2005, and the bronze in 2006. He now competes in single-lift events, winning a silver medal in squat and a gold in the deadlift in 2008. Chris qualified as an International referee in 2009 and has officiated multiple national and international competitions. At the Gay Games he has won silver in Amsterdam 1998, gold in Sydney 2002, four golds in Chicago 2006, and a gold medal in Cologne 2010. He holds Gay Games records in the squat, deadlift, and overall.
Leigh Ann Naidoo
In 2004, Leigh-Ann Naidoo was a member of the first South African beach volleyball team to compete in the Olympics. She is the first African ambassador for the Gay Games, and was the keynote speaker for the Gay Games VII Closing Ceremonies in Chicago in 2006. She has been a key player in the Gay Games scholarship program in 2006 and 2010.
Petra Roessner is a German cyclist who won the gold medal in 3 km pursuit track cycling at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
New Zealand’s Blake Skjellerup competed in short track speed skating at the Vancouver Olympics, and is training for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. He was one of the rare athletes to visit the Whistler Pride House at the 2010 Games, and credits Jeff Sheng’s “Fearless Campus Tour” on display there with motivating him to come out publicly.
Australian Ji Wallace competed at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where he received a silver medal in trampoline. In 2005, he came out publicly as gay. He was the first Australian to be named a Gay Games Ambassador.