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Canadian Olympic swimmer Markus Thormeyer opens up about his sexuality in moving essay

The athlete competed in the 2016 Olympic Games

2020-02-20

Words: Steve Brown

Canadian Olympic swimmer Markus Thormeyer has opened up about his sexuality in a moving essay.

The 22-year-old athlete – who competed in the 4x100 freestyle relay team in the 2016 Olympic games – shared his coming out story to OutSports where he recalled the shame of hiding his sexuality from his teammates.

In the essay, he wrote: “Creating these intimate bonds with my teammates was amazing, but it also made me feel guilty at the same time.

“They were exposing their most raw essence in the pool every day, but I would come to the pool emotionally guarded and not do the same.

 
 
 
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“Following every interaction with my teammates, I would feel a bit sad because they weren’t getting to know the real me, just some surface-level shell I fabricated.

“I didn’t want to take that chance, so I kept my walls up and generally avoided talks about sexuality and dating.”

He went on to explain how he feared rejection from his team if he ever came out and worried he would lose his chance of competing in the Olympics.

 
 
 
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The stress and worry led him to have an emotional breakdown and it forced him to come out to his teammates but thankfully they welcomed him without judgment.

He continued: “Knowing that I had such amazing teammates supporting me so strongly regardless of my sexual orientation was one of the best feelings in the world…There was no drama and it was exactly what I wanted.”

After coming out, Thormeyer said his swimming improved and he has since gone on to win the gold in the 200 metre backstroke and bronze in the 100 metre backstroke in the FINA Champions Swim Series in China.

 
 
 
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“My training got better, I got stronger and my technique got sharper,” he said.

“Not only that, but I also broke down some walls between me and my teammates and our relationships flourished.

“Training with them fostered relationships that will last a lifetime.

 “I want to share my story and be able to spread the message that it’s OK to be gay. Life is much better when you fully embrace you for who you are.”