Courtesy of Athlete Ally

Olympians discuss the role of LGBT allies

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NEW YORK – To the global soccer community, Heather O’Reilly was known by the nickname HAO (pronounced “hey-oh”). But to her teammates, she was affectionately called GAO (pronounced “gay-oh”) for her support of LGBT athletes.

O’Reilly, who is retired and married to husband Dave Werry, was recently honored by Athlete Ally for helping to create an LGBT-inclusive athletic environment for the U.S. women’s national soccer team.

“Athletes like Heather are exactly what we need,” said Lori Lindsey, a former teammate of O’Reilly, in an interview last Tuesday at Athlete Ally’s annual Action Awards in New York City. “You are starting to see more and more gay athletes come out of the closet to stand up and speak out, but really the biggest evolution is having straight allies to support and speak up for us.”

A record 53 out gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender athletes competed at the Rio Olympics, according to Outsports, up from 23 athletes at the London Games.

“It was a far more openly diverse Olympic Games than we’ve ever had,” said Greg Louganis, a five-time Olympic diving medalist. “I think it will continue to trend that way.”

53 athletes are a small fraction of the more than 11,000 athletes who competed in Rio. Athlete Ally sends bracelets and backpack patches to athletes who want to show their support of the LGBT community in the Olympic Village.

“In order to make [publically coming out] more welcoming, we need more people to be visible in their support of the LGBT community,” said Hudson Taylor, the Founder and Executive Director of Athlete Ally.

O’Reilly showed her support of LGBT community by participating in the EveryFan campaign, which highlighted the challenges LGBT fans face when attending a sporting event. The former University of North Carolina soccer player also spoke out against H.B. 2, North Carolina’s controversial state law that governs transgender bathroom access.

“I think I have the responsibility as a professional athlete to use my voice for things that I believe in,” said O’Reilly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. “For me, treating people with respect and including everybody is a no brainer.”

Louganis speaks with fellow Olympians and encourages them to be vocal in their support of LGBT community.

“You may feel like you are stating the obvious,” Louganis said, “but a lot of times it helps for the obvious to be stated in an emphatic way.”

Yulia Efimova wags finger as Lilly King rivalry heats up (video)

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The Lilly KingYulia Efimova rivalry is back on, but this time the Russian is wagging her finger.

Efimova missed the 100m breaststroke world record by .01 in the semifinals at the world swimming championships in Budapest on Monday.

Efimova celebrated her time by finger wagging, an homage to King’s famous move in the ready room at the Rio Olympics.  She and King will go head to head in the final as the top two seeds on Tuesday after King won her later semifinal in a personal-best time .17 slower than Efimova.

“I’m always looking at the results from the heat before,” King told media in Budapest, adding that she wasn’t shaved for Monday’s semifinals. “I saw a little finger wag. I saw it. It’s just motivating me more, so that’s OK.”

King, who criticized Efimova’s presence in Rio after serving a doping ban, beat the Russian in the Olympic 100m breaststroke final last year.

Efimova served a 16-month ban for testing positive for the banned steroid DHEA in 2013. She again tested positive in February 2016 for meldonium, though she said she stopped taking it before it became a banned substance Jan. 1 and was absolved along with other athletes.

“You’ve been caught for drug cheating, I’m just not a fan,” King memorably said in Rio, adding last fall, “[Doping] was on all of our minds. We had team meetings talking about what it was going to be like. We were going to be racing dopers, and we all knew it.”

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Katinka Hosszu wins 200m IM as swimmer leaves pool mid-race (video)

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Hungarian Katinka Hosszu delivered the gold-medal performance a raucous Budapest crowd hoped for at the world swimming championships.

Canadian Sydney Pickrem, a medal favorite, appeared to get out of the pool after 50 meters. Swimming Canada later said she “took on water” approaching the first wall.

“Unfortunately it inhibited her to the point where she wasn’t able to continue in the race,” a press release said.

Hosszu won her third straight world title in the 200m individual medley, clocking 2:07.00 at the frenzied Danube Arena. The Olympic champion and world-record holder was followed by Japan’s Yui Ohashi (2:07.91) and American Madisyn Cox (2:09.71).

“Just another stepping stone,” said Cox, who finished her University of Texas career this year and made her major international debut in Budapest. “Of course, I want to be better. That time will come.”

Hosszu was the overwhelming favorite, given she held the three fastest times in the world this year going into Monday’s final. The “Iron Lady” became the first woman to win 10 individual world championships medals, a mark that Sarah SjostromKatie Ledecky and Yulia Efimova can surpass later in the meet. Retired Australian Leisel Jones won nine, all in breaststroke.

Hosszu scratched her other event Monday night, the 100m backstroke, one of three events she won at the Rio Olympics. Hosszu could earn medals in the 200m backstroke and 400m individual medley later this week.

Pickrem ranked No. 3 in the world this year and had the third-fastest time in the semifinals behind Hosszu and American Melanie Margalis, who finished fourth.

Women’s 200m Individual Medley Results
Gold: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 2:07.00
Silver: Yui Ohashi (JPN) — 2:07.91
Bronze: Madisyn Cox (USA) — 2:09.71
4. Melanie Margalis (USA) — 2:09.82
5. Runa Imai (JPN) — 2:09.99
6. Kim Seoyeong (KOR) — 2:10.40
7. Siobhan-Marie O’Connor (GBR) — 2:10.41
DQ. Sydney Pickrem (CAN)

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