With thanks to Sky Sports for the below article.
British Olympic shot putter Sophie McKinna has come out as gay, saying now is the right time to speak publicly about her sexuality as she prepares for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Close friends and family of McKinna have known for some years of her sexuality, but the 28-year-old told Sky Sports News: “It’s about time I wasn’t just supported in this environment but by the wider community.”
McKinna is now the only openly gay current Team GB track and field athlete. British Olympic race walker Tom Bosworth, who came out in 2015, retired from racing last year.
Speaking to former race walker Tom Bosworth, McKinna said: “As an athlete, you need all the grey matter between your ears to be free, you need to be able to be yourself. And a happy athlete is ultimately a performing athlete.
“That’s why I want to publicly talk about it [my sexuality].
“Over the last year or so, I’ve been in situations where I’ve been asked to almost dial it down, or hide it, and I just don’t want to do that anymore.”
McKinna added: “I’m really working hard on clearing all of those obstacles, if you like, before the Olympics.
“It’s another rock out of the backpack.”
McKinna is a six-time national champion shot putter, while she placed 17th at the Covid-postponed Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021.
Her profile as an athlete was also a major contributing factor to her decision to come out publicly.
“It has been a bit of a battle,” McKinna said. “Part of me is of the mindset: ‘I don’t want this to overshadow my sporting career. I don’t want it to become ‘gay shot putter does this,’ ‘gay shot putter does that.’
“I still want to be Sophie. Ultimately, it doesn’t affect my sporting performance and doesn’t define me as a person.
“That was one of the big reasons why I didn’t discuss this publicly, but, at the same time, I realised I have a really valuable platform and maybe I could help somebody else who is in two minds about discussing it publicly – or even personally, with family and friends.”
McKinna added: “I hope and think it will be a really positive response. Hopefully the world is changing, and I certainly think less people are bothered – which is actually a good thing, even if it sounds like a bad thing.
“It is becoming so normalised, and that’s great.”
As for her ambitions at Paris next year, McKinna is of the belief that her coming out will only aid her preparations and performance for Team GB at the Olympics.
“When I go to the Olympics next year, I want to be able to have my family, my partner and my friends there supporting me,” she said.
“I don’t want that to be a shock or a surprise, and I don’t want that to be the first time people ask me these questions. I don’t want to have to live my life secretly.
“I think my performance will only improve by doing this.
“It takes another thing out of the back of my mind that I don’t have to be concerned about or be anxious about. As a top athlete, that’s super important.
“For me, it has been a massive feeling of freedom.”
The BEAA runs an LGBTQ+ athletes’ network to support and connect elite LGBTQ+ sportspeople. To join or for more information, email BEAA.LGBTQ@britisheliteathletes.org.Access our support >