Brian Boitano announces he's gay before trip to Sochi

3:23 PM, Dec 19, 2013   |    comments
Brian Boitano skates during the P&G & Wal-Mart 'Tribute to American Legends of the Ice' at Izod Center on December 11, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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(USA TODAY) -- Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic figure skating gold medalist who was named to the official U.S. delegation to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, announced today that he is gay.

"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," Boitano said in a statement.

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"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."

Boitano's announcement comes two days after he was named by President Obama to the opening ceremony delegation that also includes Billie Jean King, the tennis legend who is openly gay. Boitano, 50, declined to discuss his sexuality in an interview for the book Inside Edge in 1995.

Boitano says he's proud to be chosen to represent the American delegation as a former Olympic athlete, but "I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so."

Two-time U.S. ice hockey Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow, who also is openly gay, was named to the closing ceremony delegation.

Their presence in the delegations has been viewed as a strong message from Obama against Russia's anti-gay propaganda law.

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