By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 27 2014 5:33 PM ET
Gay Olympic hopeful Blake Skjellerup announced last week that he will not compete in next month's games in Sochi, Russia.
Skjellerup, the only New Zealand speed skater to compete in the Olympics to date, has been a vocal opponent of Russia's antigay law, which prohibits so-called propaganda in support of LGBT rights. He finished 16th in the 2010 Vancouver games before coming out to DNA magazine.
Weeks ago, Skjellerup finished 33rd in the competition to qualify for the 500-meter short track speed skating. He was one spot away from automatic qualification.
"I came very, very close," he said in a video posted to YouTube. "But it was not meant to be. I'm not disappointed in the outcome at all. I tried, and I'm not embarrassed or ashamed in any way. I'm proud of what I achieved, and it's been a rough ride since Vancouver, but I stuck through it, and I feel like I came out better on the other side."
Several other skaters from New Zealand attempted to qualify for this year's games, but only Shane Dobbin clocked a fast enough time. He will compete in the five-kilometer and 10-kilometer events.
Both Skjellerup and gay Olympic diver Matthew Mitcham were named as ambassadors to the 2014 Gay Games in Cleveland.