AUSTRALIAN Olympian Belle Brockhoff has revealed she was the target of anti-gay bigotry over social media after she missed the final of the snowboard cross event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.

Brockhoff – the Australian team’s only openly-gay athlete – placed eighth overall after she was knocked out of the semi-final when Canada’s Dominique Maltais clipped her at a corner.

Earlier in the day, Brockhoff was lucky to escape a similar fate in the quarter-finals when teammate Torah Bright almost knocked her off while navigating a turn in the air.

“If a Canadian hadn’t taken me out, I would’ve won,” 21-year-old Brockhoff joked with reporters afterwards.

“I am going to write her a strongly-worded open letter.

“She just took a really tight line. She’s really aggressive on the course and her board hit my board. I couldn’t stop myself from going off the edge. I was a little bit winded but all good.

“She (Maltais) said, ‘I’m so sorry, Belle’. When athletes are in that zone, they will take any line.”

Afterwards, Brockhoff detailed how she was the victim of online trolls in the lead-up to the event due to her sexuality.

“I’ve had a lot of people tweeting me about different things,” Brockhoff said.

“I’ve had hate tweets. But it’s good getting different sides of the story, and trying to open your eyes a lot more before you say anything.

“I’ve been called an aggressive something dyke or something, but I thought it was pretty funny. This one guy said, ‘I’m right behind [Russian president Vladimir] Putin, you should break a leg and get locked in the slammer’ … The hate is funny.”

Brockhoff said she intended to make a statement in support of Russia’s LGBTI community after the Olympics were over.

“I want to enjoy the Olympic experience, but after that I will definitely be voicing my opinion,” she said.

“Like I said before, if I didn’t get a medal, nobody is really going to care. I will still say things that I want to say. If people want to listen they’ll listen.”

Brockhoff’s comments came as the campaign to put pressure on Russia’s much criticised ‘gay propaganda’ laws seemed to lose momentum with no Olympic athlete yet to make a significant or explicit statement or protest.

Hudson Taylor, the founder and executive director of Athlete Ally that was heavily involved in promoting the Principle 6 campaign against LGBTI discrimination, said he was not discouraged by the near-total silence from athletes on the subject.

“I know for a fact that there are athletes currently competing who will not let these games come and go without making a statement,” Taylor told Associated Press.

“I for one will be watching the rest of the games with great anticipation and excitement.”

There are media reports that Vladimir Luxuria, an Italian television personality and actor who became Europe’s first openly-trans* parliamentarian when she was elected to the Italy’s chamber of deputies, had been detained by Russian police at Sochi on Sunday after allegedly holding a sign that said, in Russian, “Gay is OK”.

Image: Ryan Pierse (Getty Images)



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