Real Athlete is an ongoing series of interviews with inspirational, out gay athletes from around the world. Are you a Real Athlete? Take our Real Athlete Survey.
R. Scott Smith, 41, likes to dive right in. For over 30 years, he’s been the crazy guy balancing on the end of the platform ready to jump into the waters below.
What’s your team like?
I’m a part of the swimming and diving team, Minnesota Ice. There are about eight swimmers with me, the lone diver. We don’t train at the same site, so I only see them at competitions. I am 40, and dive at a senior/ masters level.
What is your goal for Gay Games Chicago 2006? Going for the gold?
I plan to win the one-meter and three-meter springboard events. I want to place well in platform. Also, I will compete in the synchronized diving event.
What impact has participating in the Gay Games had on your life? What role has sports played in your life?
I had a great experience in New York. I won several medals, met many great athletes and made a lot of new friends. I felt welcome. Most important, I was able to do what I love to do with like-minded people who could appreciate me for being a gay athlete.
I felt overwhelmed walking into both opening and closing ceremonies. Being recognized and apprciated as a gay athlete for the first time was an awesome and life-changing event for me. I was moved to tears.
How long have you been playing your sport? What role does it play in your life?
I have been diving for over 30 years. I work as a coach for youth and college-age swimmers. I spend about four to six hours at the pool at least four days a week. I train myself at least four days in the water and lift everyday.
What do you consider your main achievements or accomplishments, whether in your sport or otherwise?
I was the Wisconsin State Champion in 1983 and a Big 10 finalist three years in a row. I hold world titles in the one, three and ten meters at the World Masters Games. I’m the world recordholder in men’s one-meter springboard. I’m the Masters National Champion in all events and in synchronized diving as well. I have been the national team coach for 10 years.
Has someone served as an inspiration or as a mentor to you? If so, who?
Greg Louganis, of course, and many other individuals in my sport over time. Also, Jennifer Chandler.
What other sports have you've played or play? How did you chose the sport you will compete in at Gay Games VII.
I like Frisbee, track and field, football, bowling, softball, wrestling and weightlifting. I have always been a diver, so that’s it for me.
Interview courtesy of the Gay Games VII organizers. For more information about this year's Gay Games and how you can participate, visit www.chicagogaygames.org.