Blake Skjellerup, the openly gay speed skater of New Zealand, plans to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He also intends to openly defy Russia's law against public display of support for gay right by wearing a rainbow pin on his uniform.
Aware that the skater could be targeted by Russian officials, New Zealand plans to appoint a member of their embassy in Moscow to make sure their sports delegation are not targeted by Russia's anti-gay laws.
He had competed in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games in Canada. Here is the video of his performance in the 1000m heat.
Ahead of the Olympics, Blake and other athletes took part in a campaign against Russia's anti-gay ban in The Project Australia.
Louisa Wall, a lesbian member of the New Zealand Parliament said, "The embassy is continuing to monitor the human rights situation in Russia and is working closely with like-minded mission on this."
Russia has threatened to prosecute anyone who promotes gay rights in the presence of minors or even in public displays, including parades or demonstrations.
Blake participated in the ISU World Cup in Shanghai, China, the first step for him to qualify for a slot in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. He ended third in the 1,500 metres heat and qualified him to advance to the quarterfinal round. He also registered the seventh besh time overall.
However, he did not qualify in the prelims of the 500 metres because of his fourth place finish in the heat.
Last week, he showed to the LGBT community in Los Angeles the new pin designed which will serve as his pride pin in Russia. Blake dropped by LA on the way home from the first two legs of the Speed Skating World Cup.
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