Ireen Wüst is a Dutch long-track speed skater. Sunday evening in Vancouver at the 2010 Winter Olympics, the out lesbian kissed her partner Sanna van Kerkhof, another ice skater, after winning the gold medal in the 1500 meter race. The scene was broadcast on the giant screen facing the track, which is a huge boon to out GLBT athletes in a field where gays and lesbians don't have much visibility.
A four time speed-skating world champion, with a gold medal from the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Wüst is well-loved in Holland where speed-skating is a very popular sport. She came out of the closet in 2009.
Wüst has had quite a time being one of the rare out athletes in professional sports-she reports being annoyed with the constant barrage of inquiries she receives into her private life. She insists on speaking about speed-skating, as she reminded readers of eurOut, a European lesbian website. Wüst's story brings to mind the media circus surrounding French tennis star Amelie Mauresmo's coming-out during the Australian Open in 1999. Mauresmo reports that ten years later, there is a still an eerie silence surrounding the issue of gay and lesbian athletes. But the revelation of Wüst's and international rugby superstar's Gareth Thomas's sexuality over the course of the past 4 months has certainly brought much-needed visiblity to their existence and participation in professional sports.