The World Outgames in Antwerp are coming up next month, and this year LGBTI sporting association Team Melbourne is sending a contingent along to compete for fame, glory and medals. The group launched new uniforms for the delegation at a farewell event at DT’s Hotel on Sunday.
Dane McManus from Team Melbourne told Star Observer many in the contingent would be returning for their second or third Outgames, but for other athletes it would be their first competition.
“I think it would be a really positive experience for those people, especially to experience such an accepting and welcoming environment, and with the Outgames attached to a human rights conference it’s very affirming of who we are and what we can achieve,” McManus explained.
This is the third World Outgames, with the first and second held in Montreal and Copenhagen respectively. The event originated after a split from organisers of the Gay Games, a long-running competition held since 1982.
Part of each World Outgames is a human rights conference featuring prominent speakers and activists from around the world, this year with a focus on differences in human rights gains between the world’s LGBTI communities.
The Team Melbourne team has achieved success at previous Outgames, and McManus said he hopes Antwerp will be no different.
“We’ve got a couple of very strong swimmers who are highly rated and ranked very highly in their age group and in their competition, so we’re hoping to get a few medals there,” he said.
“A couple of the other teams are very competitive, especially the water polo team, who got silver in Cologne at the Gay Games, so I think they’re hoping to better that in Antwerp.”
Although the event is an exciting experience for Melbourne’s LGBTI sportspeople, McManus said Team Melbourne’s attendance will have a lasting impact on competitors returning home to local competitions.
“I think it really helps — when we come home it gives some of those teams who don’t really compete in local leagues more confidence to really go out there and liaise and associate and engage with the broader sporting community.”
The World Outgames in Antwerp are held from 31 July to 11 August. Read Star Observer for coverage of Team Melbourne’s results.