In 2002 I competed in the triathlon in the Gay Games in Sydney. It’s almost beyond my comprehension that it’s now 2006 and the Gay Games are being held in Chicago (or Montreal, depending on your gay politics). The exprience was amazing for me, I trained pretty hard (well, as hard as someone who was working as an aerobics instructor could train outside of working hours) and I loved being in a really serious, truly competitive international event amongst ‘real’ athletes.
It made a difference that it was the ‘gay’ games. Like many men like me, sport at school had been a living nightmare of humiliation and I’d pretty much avoided anything but individual sport and aerobics ever since. So putting myself up for a competitive event against other men was suprisingly hard. Knowing they were all likely to be gay made a big difference.. and that’s basically the premise of the Gay Games Federation – to provide a place where gay men and women can confidently compete as athletes. It was a really nice change in the gay world to have a massive gathering (in Sydney there were about 12,500 athletes and 40,000 supporters – the events were held in the Sydney Olympic facilities – how cool is that!) where the focus was not our sexuality alone. It was an extraordinary set of experiences for me, not the least of which was entering a rugby stadium, the single representative of Christchurch, New Zealand, to be greeted by the cheers of the 40,000 people present. I’m all for an audience at the best of times – but this really was something else.
Not that our sexuality was irrelevant. That triathlon is the only race I’ve ever competed in where your competitiors yell things like ‘nice legs’ as they pass you on the cycle leg. I have to say it did soften the blow of the indignity of being passed. A little.
I had aspirations of competing in the Montreal games and coming first in the triathlon in my age group this year. My life instead seemed to experience a few speed wobbles and I became a little distracted by the sudden emergence of childhood issues in my adult life. It’s with great relief that I can say that that period seems to be coming to an end and I’m once again ‘returning to myself’.
I’m feeling great these days.
So, of course, my mind moves to competition. I know we’re all meant to be satisfied with our own personal achievements.. but somehow I have a hankering to test myself against other people in real race situations, and now that I’m no longer afraid – I’m looking at entering in some New Zealand events. The ones I have in mind are the Port Tauranga Half Ironman. And the Mototapu Icebreaker next year.. and something else before them.
Anyone want to come?