As a teenager I had been thai boxing at a high level for many years, but I had to quit because of a serious knee injury. In April 2016, after six years of medical problems, I underwent a leg amputation. During my rehabilitation I quickly made new goals; not only did I want to learn to walk again, but I also wanted to be able to run again. Even participating in a triathlon was on my to-do list.
Four months after my leg amputation I tested a blade, a special prosthesis for running. Walking with such a prosthesis wasn’t easy and that’s why I decided to learn to run again in the presence of my physiotherapist, prosthesis maker and technician in Revarte, a rehabilitation center. When the basics worked out quite well, I restarted in an athletics club with three training sessions a week. The first year after my amputation I also taught myself to swim and cycle again and even finished a 1/8th triathlon twice (800m swimming, 20km cycling, 5km walking).
For a year I tried out different sports, and eventually looked into top sports. I chose athletics because I finished fourth in the 100m sprint at the World Para-athletics World Championship in 2017. I wanted to know how far I could get and also took on the challenge of learning to long jump as a second track number. By giving my all for the long jump and the 100m sprint I experienced the same feeling as when I was Thai boxing. My coach also put boxing training in my schedule once a week so I still can enjoy the feeling regularly.
For now I am most proud of my medals I won in August 2018. During the European Para-athletics European Championships in Berlin I won silver in the long jump and bronze in the 100m sprint. At the moment, I’m focused on the World Cup in Dubai in November 2019. The performances we achieved there are particularly important for qualifying for the Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020. They have been one of my major goals since the start of my athletics career.
When I was 19 years old, I was really struggling and “came out” very slowly. In my sports club they actually knew it faster than I did, so there was not much more to tell. I went to a gay party with my teammates and trainer for the first time. After that first time I went out with them several times when I didn’t have any matches, but I don’t really see myself as an out athlete. Ultimately, I’m just who I am and you can’t choose who you fall in love with. If people now ask me if I have a partner, I’m always honest, but I will not introduce myself as “Gitte the lesbian”. I want people to know me because of what I achieve and not because of my sexuality. Heterosexuals don’t have to introduce themselves as hetero either, right? My sexuality is only a part of who I am and that part doesn’t make me different or doesn’t cause me to have other values and norms in life.
I haven’t really had negative reactions in my sports environment, but I’ve never been afraid of the reactions of my club, supporters or teammates. During my sports education I wasn’t out. There hasn’t really been a good opportunity or momentum where I could have told them, and I also didn’t want any negative comments from the other girls. We had regular physical contact during our lessons and I wanted to avoid it would become any different.
I never told my sponsors about my sexuality, simply because I don’t think it should be in a sponsor file. It must be about your capacities, goals and achievements. Your sponsors should only support you in what you want to achieve, they have no business with your sexuality. That being said, I never actually received negative reactions from sponsors who knew or came to know about it.
CHATTING ABOUT WOMEN
In my sports club people don’t really talk about LGBTs. We are engaged in our sport and are therefore focused on the goals we are trying to achieve. Sometimes fellow athletes make jokes about it but I can laugh with that. Also, the men like to chat about women with me. If we have to go somewhere with the team, I will always take my partner with me and I never get negative reactions.
I think it’s a shame that people still experience fear of expressing themselves in a team sport. Personally, I find it very short-sighted if someone has always been your friend / teammate, but that suddenly changes when they are out. A person’s sexuality doesn’t change anything about the person who’s been your teammate two seconds ago. That person always retains his qualities and characteristics. You cannot choose who you fall in love with or how you feel in your body. Being able to be yourself is very important, especially in your sport.
To those people I want to tell that they must believe in themselves. Surround yourself with people who genuinely believe in you and are always there for you. Work fully on your own goals and dreams and never let obstacles or negative reactions stop you. Be yourself and trust that you are not alone. The people who genuinely like you won’t act differently tomorrow when they know about your sexuality, because for them you are perfect the way you are.
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