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SPORTS/RECREATION Live from Denmark: It's the Outgames!
by Ross Forman
2009-07-29

This article shared 3414 times since Wed Jul 29, 2009
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Pictured: Left. Members of the women's hockey squad Team USA 2009 in Copenhagen. Right: Members of the LGBT swimming club Paris Aquatique. Members of the Chicago Rowing Union ( CRU ) were at the Outgames in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photos by Ross Forman

Copenhagen, Denmark—The second World Outgames featured an energetic, artistic, uplifting 90-minute Opening Ceremony here July 25—along with a visit from Mother Nature.

Thousands attended the outdoor opening, including three members of the Chicago Rowers Union ( CRU ) , each dressed in their competitive attire. The CRU members—John Saunders, Brando Mataya and Mike Check—started their competition on Sunday. But they and the thousands who attended the Opening Ceremony, held in the center of downtown, braved a heavy rain, which started about an hour into the Opening.

"Copenhagen is really going queer the next eight days," 2009 World Outgames president Uffe Elbaek said July 25, hours before the Opening Ceremony.

There are 5,500 people registered for the Outgames and more than 7,500 LGBT tourists expected in town, Elbaek said. The Outgames offers 34 sports disciplines, with about 1,800 competitions and more than 1,700 volunteers.

Plus, the International Conference on LGBT Human Rights, an integral portion of the Outgames and one of the major differences from the Gay Games, opened July 27.

Chicagoan Bill Barrett finished the 26.2-mile marathon in 3:45, which was 15 minutes under his pre-race goal time. This writer finished the half-marathon in 2:19.

"I did well; I was pleased with my run," Barrett said. "It was a good course and the event was well organized. The course was very flat; I think that helped. Plus, the day was cool, which helped. It was a nice day [ to run ] . It was better run than I expected."

Hans Martin, 44, from Berlin, Germany, was the winner of the marathon, which had 90 participants. He finished in 2:40.

"It was a good marathon, but not an easy course," Martin said. "I prepared quite good [ for this race ] . This was an important race for me."

But Martin didn't get much time to celebrate; he had to be working back in Berlin at 7 a.m., and the race finished here at about 1 p.m.

Sunday's running events ( marathon, half marathon, 5K and 10K ) were the Outgames events with the most local, straight participants—and that was planned, "an example of trying to bridge the gap between the LGBT community and the City of Copenhagen," Elbaek said.

Sports such as fencing, flag football and rugby had demonstrations Sunday.

The sports with the most participants are swimming, tennis, badminton, dance sport and running. The fewest participants will be in martial arts, with fewer than 30 registered. Organizers contacted participants in sports with low registration to see if they wanted to continue with their sport or cancel the sport. All said the show must go on.

"I just feel sorry for those people who are not here to experience the Outgames; it's an amazing event," said Julia Applegate, the co-president of GLISA, which is the governing body of the World Outgames.

Added GLISA co-president Wessel Van Kampen, "Maybe we wanted a little more [ attending ] , but with the economic situation, 5,500 people invested in being here is really beautiful. The [ local ] organizing committee has put on a very interesting and attractive week of sports, culture and the human rights conference."


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