Sophie McKinna, the six-time UK national shot put champion and 2024 Olympic hopeful, has come out publically after being out to friends and family for years.
“It’s about time I wasn’t just supported in this environment, but by the wider community,” she said. “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, as they say.”
With the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics around the corner, McKinna says that she is not worried about how coming out will affect her performance.
“I think my performance will only improve by doing this,” she stated. “It takes another thing out of the back of my mind that I don’t have to be concerned about or be anxious about.”
At the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, the UK had the 4th most out athletes with 16. They followed closely behind Brazil, Canada, and the Netherlands. The UK’s only other out track and field athlete, race walker Tom Bosworth, retired last year.
McKinna says she hopes that by coming out, being a queer athlete becomes normalized rather than becoming a spectacle. “It has been a bit of a battle,” she 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.”
She continued, “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 realized 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 will be competing to qualify for the UK Olympic team later this year. Looking ahead to Paris, she says, “I want to be able to have my family, my partner, and my friends there supporting me.”
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