Swimmer nabs silver at Gay Games in the US
The only Chinese citizen taking part in the Gay Games in the United States won a silver medal on Monday.
The 22-year-old, who asked to be identified as Liu Shi, finished second in the 50-meter breaststroke event for men aged between 18 and 24.
The ninth Gay Games began on Saturday in Cleveland, Ohio, with more than 8,000 people taking part.
Liu announced his medal success on Tuesday on his Sina Weibo account
“I just came to the games out of curiosity and never expected that I could win a medal,” he said. “It’s a surprise and a pleasant experience for me.”
Liu finished the race in 40 seconds, 10 seconds behind the winner. He also took part in the 100m and 200m breaststroke races, but did not repeat his success.
“I was too tired to finish that long distance,” he said.
Liu, who was born in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, is not a professional swimmer. He graduated from a university in Beijing two years ago and works to promote gay rights in the city.
He realized he was gay while in middle school and told his family and friends in 2011.
Liu said he grew up facing prejudice and a lack of understanding, and this continued during his participation in the games.
When he announced he had won the medal, some people left negative comments online, with one saying, “What a gross game”.
“I’ve gotten used to that, though I still feel a little bit angry,” Liu said. “It doesn’t matter, I enjoy what I’m doing.”
The Gay Games were first held in 1982 and are organized by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from around the world.
Participants compete in a range of sports including badminton, soccer, golf and figure skating.
“It’s such a wonderful event, or to be more precise, a carnival,” Liu said. “I had a great time and can’t wait to take part in the next Gay Games, which will be held in Paris in 2018.”
What surprised him most was the level of support from the people of Cleveland.
Many of the events were held in schools, hospitals offered medical care for athletes who suffered injuries, and city buses were decorated with Gay Games banners.
Liu said that, as the only participant from China, he was welcomed by other competitors. They encouraged him and wished him luck in his races.
“They also said they hope to see more Chinese faces in the games in the future.