This month's Gay Games included some amazing athletes—guys who are really committed to their sports, and proud to compete. And among those athletes were some of our own RealJock members. We heard from a couple of our guys who won gold at the Gay Games, and today we'd like to congratulate them. But we also know there are more Gay Games competitors in our community from whom we haven't yet heard. Now's the time to speak up.
Games Participants, Please Stand Up!
Did you participate in the Games? Would you like to tell us about it? Write to us and let us profile you on the site!
What to send: Email us some information about yourself (age, competitive background, what led you to the Games), as well as the sport you competed in (division/group), how you did, and what you thought of the experience. In particular, we'd like to know what was special about the Gay Games for you, and whether you plan to compete again. Finally, please include a couple of photos of yourself, preferably including a pic from your Gay Games appearance.
Where to send it: Send your email to email@example.com with Gay Games in the subject line. Please give us an email address where you can be reached for follow-up questions. And then prepare to reap the glory....
Gay Games Gold for Two RealJock Guys
It was a great Gay Games for two of our members, Coltsd (actual name: Billy) and MarathonManiac (real name: David). Both won gold medals, Billy in diving, and David in (not so surprisingly) marathon. We spoke to both of them about the experience, and here's what we learned.
Billy competed in three diving events: the 1- and 3-meter springboard as well as the platform. He won gold medals in all three. Pretty impressive, right? And he's only at the beginning of competing in this sport. "I'm actually new to diving," he tells us. "I've always been interested in learning and I just started last fall. I was a nationally ranked gymnast when I was younger (I'm 43 now), and the muscle memory for flipping and twisting is still there so I'm picking up quickly." We'll say—hard to see how you could pick it up any quicker. And he's been having success all year leading up to Cologne. "In May I competed in a national Masters competition and had a great meet (two bronzes) so I thought I might give the Games a shot. I'm so glad I did because it was an amazing experience."
Here's Billy practicing his dives three weeks before the Games:
We also asked Billy to tell us about his favorite Games moments. "Besides being on top of the podium, the most memorable part of the Gay Games was the opening ceremony," he says (though it's hard to imagine anything beating that podium vista!). "It was so inspiring to see thousands of athletes from all over the world march into the stadium. The mood in the arena was incredibly uplifting. It felt great to be a part of a community of people that was so focused on health and fitness. Everyone was very friendly, easy to talk to and really excited about being there."
This is a key aspect of the Games—the blend of talent and inclusion. "It felt so good to have trained as hard as I have this year and compete well," Billy says. But there was more to the experience for him than winning. "It was also great to have met some incredible divers from many other countries.They were all so nice and helpful and the atmosphere of the competition was very friendly. An awesome thing about the Games which most people don't realize is that you don't have to be an expert in a sport to go there and compete. There is no qualifying event and anyone regardless of age or ability level can enter and compete in the sport of their choice."
Of course, it doesn't hurt to be in really amazing shape:
That means that there's no reason not to think about going yourself—a point Billy's own experience highlights: "I highly recommend going to Cleveland in 2014 to anyone training for a sport. Or like me, you can pick a new sport you've always fantasized about doing. It's four years from now, so go for it! I'll see you there." In fact, you could also be like Billy and find sponsoring, in his case through Treasure Island Media. "They have been and continue to be incredibly supportive in helping me pursue my competitive diving goals."
Our second gold medalist is David (aka MarathonManiac), who has been a distance runner since 1980, when he joined Frontrunners. Now, he has won Gay Games gold in his age division. This is another key aspect of the Games—that they provide a great competitive outlet for athletes of all ages, not merely the young. With 91 marathons or ultras under his belt since his first marathon in 1989, David has a lot of experience to bring to the Games. Here he is gettin' it done in this year's Gay Games 10K race, in which he also competed:
David got his MarathonManiac profile name from his training regimen: "Most of my training is with Frontrunner friends," he says, "and I also belong to a club called Marathon Maniacs." That persistence has paid off. "I've always been a slightly-better-than-average runner," he says, "but as I've aged, the competition has gotten slimmer and thus on a good day placing in races is within reach. My highest marathon finish was second place overall in the 1999 Dam Tough Marathon, in Lake Isabella, Ca.; the secret is that there were only 11 runners." But he's also a Gay Games veteran, with this year's trip being his fifth. "In every case I ran the marathon; at the Chicago Games in 2006 I placed second in the men aged 50-54 division."
As so often at the Games, David's victory is a story both of personal accomplishment and community support. Here's his account of the race: "Marathon day turned out to be cooler than it had been all week, and the course was mostly shaded through a large urban park. I burned through the first loop about 3 minutes faster than planned and paid for that with a markedly slower second loop. Most of my Frontrunner comrades had elected to do just the half-marathon, so as I neared the finish I was glad to hear them cheering me on from several spots in the final kilometer. Due to some disorganization, it wasn't until 10PM that night after the closing ceremony that I found out I had placed, but I had a good feeling at the finish line that I must've made it. So my elation was delayed; my friends made a bigger fuss about it than I did, which really gave me a boost."
David, like Billy, gives a lot of good reasons to head out for the 2014 games: "Every Gay Games has been a wonderful experience. The entire city turns gay, the locals are friendly. Besides sport, there are all sorts of cultural and sightseeing things to do. Plenty of parties, too, though I'm past the age where that appeals. Winning isn't the ultimate goal of the Games; the goals of the Games are participation, inclusion, personal best. Everybody can and should participate in their favorite sport. I guarantee they will have the time of their life."
As the sign behind David says—be part of it!