With over 10,000 participants, the 2010 Gay Games, held in Cologne, Germany from July 31-Aug. 6, featured the athletic gifts of a few local talents. Six Nashville residents competed in the quadrennial event, with three athletes earning a total of seven medals in various track and field events.
Keith Little earned medals in all three events he entered: javelin, shotput and hammer events. A winner of javelin gold in the two previous Gay Games (2002 Chicago and 2006 Sydney), he repeated that victory and also achieved his own personal goals in the hammer and shotput, finishing third in both contests.
“There were 10-12 competitors in my age group for the javelin and shot," Little said. "I scored a gold in the javelin, and bronze in the shot and hammer. Performance-wise, I was very happy to have thrown as far as my winning throw in Sydney eight years earlier.”
In addition to his own success, Little also cheered on his partner, Sam Felker, who competed in the triathlon and secured the bronze medal for his age group. For both men, Little says, the best moments of the games came outside the competition.
“The most memorable moments of the Games included marching in with Team Nashville, as well as meeting athletes from all over the world," Little said. "In addition, the lighting of the flame was a very inspiring moment."
He added, "Cologne was a great host to the Gay Games, and we enjoyed sightseeing at the Dom, an enormous cathedral in the heart of the city, as well as the Ludvig Museum, which had a Lichenstein and Picasso exhibits.”
Jay Gondek, who contended in the Sydney games, earned two silver medals in the triathlon events. Gondek says the experience is always bigger than just competing in an event.
“I had a great time and the competition was awesome. We really need a bigger team in 2014," Gondek said. "The spirit of the games is so contagious and so beautiful. To see 10,000 athletes and 50,000 spectators get together for friendly competition, you can’t beat it! There’s nothing like it in the world.”
The next Gay Games will take place in Cleveland in 2014, and both Gondek and Little are planning to compete again. For Little, the preparation will begin far in advance.
“I plan to compete in a couple of college track meets next year, as well as the Pride Track Meet in San Francisco. Also, I may compete in U.S. Nationals,” he said.
Gondek will vie for the Ford Ironman title in Louisville next year. He also has an eye on new challenges.
“I’ve met some really great tennis players here that play in gay events, and I’m going to start training for tennis after I get back from the Gay Games,” Gondek said.
To see the full results from this year’s event in Cologne, visit the Federation of Gay Games website at http://www.games-cologne.de.