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The 6 most successful LGBTQ Olympians of all time

These stars of the Summer and Winter Olympics have a massive 41 medals between them.

2021-07-27

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Greg Louganis, shot by John Russo

This month, at least 163 publicly LGBTQ athletes will compete at the Olympic Games - a record, and more than twice as many as in 2016.

But before weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, diver Tom Daley et al is a long lineage of queer sportspeople who have made waves at the Games in their modern form, which launched in 1896.

Here, we look back at the six most successful of all time - and they have 41 medals between them!

1) Ireen Wüst - 11 medals, speed skating

 
 
 
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Dutch speed skater Ireen has won five gold medals, five silver and one bronze since her first Winter Olympics in 2006 at the age of just 17. 

The 35-year-old is the most decorated Olympic speed skater of all time.

2) Ian Thorpe - nine medals, swimming

 
 
 
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Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe boasts five gold medals, three silver, and one bronze.

The now-38-year-old first competed at the Olympics in the year 2000, at the age of just 17, before coming out publicly in 2014 following his retirement.

3) Karin Büttner-Janz - seven medals, artistic gymnastics

Image: Wiki 

Artistic gymnastics icon Karin Büttner-Janz has seven medals to her name: two golds, three silvers, and two bronzes. 

As the most successful sportswoman of the German Democratic Republic at the 1972 Summer Olympics, the now-69-year-old was recognized there as 1972's Sportswoman of the Year at the age of 20.

4) Jayna Hefford - five medals

 
 
 
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Next, we have Canadian ice hockey player Jayna Hefford, who has four gold medals and one silver. Now 44, Hefford won her first medal (silver) at the Games in Nagano, Japan in 1998.

5) Greg Louganis - five medals, diving

 
 
 
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Greg Louganis has four Olympic gold medals and one silver, picking up the latter at Montreal in 1978 before sweeping both the springboard and platform events at the 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics on both.

Diagnosed with HIV in 1988 six months before the Seoul Games, Louganis (now 61), publicly disclosed his status in 1995, a year after coming out as gay publicly in 1994.

6) Diana Taurasi - four medals, basketball

 
 
 
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Finally, in sixth place is basketball star Diana Taurasi (pictured front-cente), who has a total of four medals - and all golds. The 39-year-old won her first medal in 2004 and her last in 2016.

For more information about LGBTQ Olympic history, check out this research by onlinegambling.ca.

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