Swim­mer nabs sil­ver at Gay Games in the US

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By ZHAO XINYING zhaoxiny­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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