CLEVELAND, OH – Gay Games 9 Cleveland + Akron kicked off on Saturday night with the pomp and excitement of the Opening Ceremony held at Quicken Loans Arena downtown. The Games, which will be held through Aug. 16, are already off to a great start for Team Saint Louis.
Winning gold over the weekend were Jim Washek in power lifting and Karen Schmale in shot put. Team Saint Louis president Alice Tejada also earned a spot on the medal stand on Monday, taking bronze in darts. Team St. Louis brings a contingent of 56-participants to Cleveland and will be competing in over 13 sporting events.
The brainchild of out Olympic Decathlete Dr. Tom Waddell, the Games’ mission of “Inclusion, Participation and Personal Best” is something TSL members take to heart.
“I have to compete in order to focus on something other than HIV/AIDS,” says Jay Pulford, who learned he was HIV-positive in 1987 and is returning to the Games to compete in Track and Field. “I’m pissed that AIDS isn’t out there more than it is in the gay community, so that’s my job. If you don’t have purpose you have to figure out where you can get some. With this, I have some goals.”
“I think the Gay Games originally started changing the way the world thought about us because we are more than sex, drugs and alcohol,” added Betty Neeley, who is competing in billiards in Cleveland – her seventh Gay Games. “When we started whipping their ass and busting their Olympic records, they started paying a little attention and I believe it gave us some steps up. Because it was global – we’re talking global here.”
In addition to billiards, darts, power lifting and track and field, Team Saint Louis will be competing this week in beach volleyball, bowling, cycling, dancesport, golf, marathon/half marathon, table tennis, triathlon and volleyball.
Gay Games 9 organizers expect up to 40,000 participants and visitors this week. The economic impact could bring as much as $40 million to Northeast Ohio.
For the latest information, medal and participant standings check out: www.gg9cle.com