Adam Rippon has become the first openly gay American to qualify for the Winter Olympics after the 28-year-old finished in fourth place Saturday at the U.S. figure skating championships.
“I’m really grateful that the selection committee looked at my body of work over the last two seasons,” Rippon told reporters on Sunday after he was was chosen to participate in this year’s competition because of his performance in international competitions.
“I feel that my experience will help me have my best performances at the Olympic Games, and it feels amazing to say that,” he said.
Rippon will head to the Olympics this year in Pyeongchang, South Korea, along with Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou.
Rippon joked that being a gay athlete is “like being a straight athlete, only with better eyebrows,” according to an interview with NPR earlier this month.
“Growing up, I really didn’t have a lot of role models. And I said, if I was ever given the chance and the platform, I would share my story,” he said.
“Because I don’t really care what other people think of me. I’m able to go out there and I’m really able to be, like, unabashedly myself. And I want somebody who’s young, who’s struggling, who’s not sure if it’s OK if they are themselves to know that it’s OK,” he said.