US runner wins silver in Russia, speaks out against anti-gay law

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15 2013 5:53 p.m. MDT

United States' Nick Symmonds celebrates after winning silver in the men's 800-meter final at the World Athletics Championships in the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013.

Alexander Zemlianichenko, Associated Press

According to The Guardian, two-time U.S. Olympian Nick Symmonds became the first international athlete to criticize Russia's law against "homosexual propaganda" on Tuesday after winning a silver medal in the 800m at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

Before his arrival to Moscow, Symmonds wrote on Runner's World in his online diary, "As an American, I believe in freedom of speech and equality for all, and therefore disagree with the laws that Russia has put in place."

Symmonds went on to say, "If I am placed in a race with a Russian athlete, I will shake his hand, thank him for his country's generous hospitality, and then, after kicking his (expletive) in the race, silently dedicate the win to my gay and lesbian friends back home. Upon my return, I will then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union."

On July 29, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a bill that criminalizes public expression of support for nontraditional relationships. And Symmonds was well aware of the consequences for violating this law.

The runner told the Associated Press after his race that he couldn't comment on the issue, saying, "I can't talk about it. You're not allowed to talk about it here. I'll get put in jail for it."

Runner's World also reported Symmonds saying, "The job here is to represent the United States and win a medal, and I did that. At the same time, it's satisfying to win a medal on Russian soil as an American who believes in equality for all people."

The AP also quoted Symmonds saying, "Upon my return (to the U.S.), I will then continue to fight for their rights in my beloved democratic union."

Email: allred@deseretdigital.com

Twitter: @JordanAllred

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS