Figure skating legend Brian Boitano, who was named by President Obama this week to the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, announced Thursday that he is gay and "proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance."
Boitano, 50, is the 1988 Olympic gold medalist. He had never publicly discussed his sexuality. He becomes the third openly gay athlete named to the delegation, joining tennis star Billie Jean King and two-time U.S. hockey medalist Caitlin Cahow.
Their presence representing the United States in Olympic ceremonies is viewed as a strong statement against Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.
Boitano's full statement:
"I am currently skating in Europe but want to provide a statement regarding my appointment to the Olympic delegation. I have been fortunate to represent the United States of America in three different Olympics, and now I am honored to be part of the presidential delegation to the Olympics in Sochi. It has been my experience from competing around the world and in Russia that Olympic athletes can come together in friendship, peace and mutual respect regardless of their individual country's practices.
"It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions. While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so. I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am. First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."
The Sochi Olympics open Feb. 7, 2014.
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Original headline: Figure skating legend Brian Boitano announced that he is gay
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