Adam Rippon, the openly gay U.S. figure skater who helped the Americans win a bronze medal in the Olympic team competition earlier this week, grew emotional at a news conference Tuesday talking about the “overwhelming” support he is receiving and the opportunity his Olympic berth has given him to reach young people who might be struggling with their sexuality.
“Being here at the Olympics does give me a louder voice,” Rippon said. “It has given me a platform. It’s given me a voice to reach to young kids. I’ve gotten so many messages I could even get emotional thinking about it, but I’ve gotten so many messages from young kids all over the country that my story’s resonated with them. It’s incredibly powerful this platform that you can have at the Olympic Games.
”Rippon said after the news conference that he had spent part of his morning starting to write an email to an 18-year-old gay man from outside of Detroit who wrote to Rippon’s agent saying the skater’s story gave him hope.
“I really want to take my time with this,” Rippon said of his response to the young man.
Rippon, 28, said he stood by his comments in my USA TODAY Sports story Jan. 17 criticizing Vice President Pence’s record on gay rights. Within an hour of the publication of that story, Pence’s press secretary responded to Rippon’s comments. The Vice President’s office has disputed Rippon’s characterization of his record.
“When we did the interview for USA TODAY, you asked me a really simple question and I gave you a really simple answer,” Rippon said. “And that the vice president felt so passionately to speak out is I think a very interesting and unique experience that I’ve never gone through.”
But Rippon said he continues to want to keep his focus on his next Olympic event, the men’s short and long programs Friday and Saturday.
“I have no problem talking about what I’ve said because I stand by it,” he said. “But I think right now, the Olympics are about the competition and the athletes involved. I talked to you about how I felt before the Games (and) it’s brought a lot of attention and questions to my other teammates. I don’t want to distract from their Olympic experience, and I don’t want my Olympic experience to be about Mike Pence.”
His back and forth with Pence has made Rippon a hero to some and a villain to others.
“In the past week, in addition to all the support I’ve gotten, I’ve heard a lot of people say, Adam Rippon should tone it down, and blah blah blah. I can’t. I can’t tone it down. I’m being me and I’m being myself and I’d be doing myself an injustice and I’d be doing an injustice to those kids who don’t feel like they’re comfortable to be themselves.”
Adam Rippon fires back at critics with inspiring message about failure
After helping the USA win a bronze medal in the Olympic team figure skating competition, Adam Rippon recently said the amount of support he has received as an openly gay athlete has been “overwhelming.”
But the 28-year-old apparently has some haters, and he sent a powerful message firing back at them, explaining how his previous failures in life have helped him get to where he is.