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Meet 9 LGBT Athletes Heading To The Summer Olympics

They're going for the gold in Rio.

The International Olympics Committee's record with LGBT athletes isn't the best—while trans Olympians can now compete without undergoing gender-reassignment surgery, homophobic countries like Russia are chosen as Olympic hosts.

But as we head toward the 2016 Summer Olympics, more and more gay, bi, trans and intersex Olympians are sharing their truth. And they're finding that being out has improved their game.

There were 23 out Olympians at the London Games, and at least 27 are expected to compete in Rio. Below, we cheer on several who hope to bring home the gold.

Tom Daley, diving

Perhaps the most famous athlete heading to Rio, Daley came out in a YouTube video in 2013, a year after the London Games.

"I've never been happier," said Daley of his relationship with fiance Dustin Lance Black. "I'd never felt the feeling of love, it happened so quickly, I was completely overwhelmed by it."

Daley made his Olympic debut at age 14 at the Beijing Games—for the 2016 Games he is being partnered with Dan Goodfellow in the synchronized 10-meter diver.

"I want to go out there and win an Olympic gold medal," Daley said. "I feel like I'm at my peak in terms of strength and conditioning, my consistency and the degree of difficulty with my routines."

Caster Semenya, track & field

In 2009, this South African runner became the subject of controversy when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) called for an investigation after she won a number of high-profile events with record times.

When the results of the investigation—and gender test the IAAF asked Semenya to take—were made public, her world imploded. Sports icons like sprinter Michael Johnson criticized the organization for its handling of the situation, and South African leaders characterized the controversy as inherently racist. (Semenya's coach resigned, claiming he hadn't protected her.)

If there was any silver lining, its that Semenya's story raised awareness about gender issues. "God made me the way I am and I accept myself," she told You magazine.

In July 2010, the IAAF cleared Semenya to return to international competition and, at the London Olympics in 2012, she carried South Africa's flag during the opening ceremonies.

With the ugliness behind her, Semenya has continued to improve her times—and reinvest in her personal life: She and girlfriend Violet Raseboya were married in 2015.

Robbie Manson, rowing

This New Zealand rower came out publicly last November, and qualified for the 2016 Summer Games in March.

Manson told his family he was gay when he was in his early 20s—his older brother is gay, as well, and younger brother Karl is on the same rowing squad as Robbie—but he didn’t tell his teammates until he made the 2012 Games in London.

“We were having a few drinks and near the end of the night I had a heart-to-heart with two of my friends,” Manson recalls. “In a very emotional state I told them that I was different, and then finally that I was gay.”

Manson, who sports a rainbow headband while rowing, says his experience has been universally positive and that being gay is actually proving to be an asset.

“I wouldn’t want to be any other way,” he says. “I think it makes me more interesting, and it’s something that does make me different in a good way. I learned that I’m a lot stronger and more resilient than I gave myself credit for, and that other people are far more accepting than I thought they would be.”

Angel McCoughtry, basketball

A forward for the Atlanta Dream, McCoughtry came out publicly on Instagram last year, admitting her relationship with fiancée Brande Elise had caused a rift with friends and family and even jeopardized her position on a Turkish women's basketball team.

"We lost friends [and] family members are upset—they said I disgraced my religion!" she wrote. "One thing i do know is that LOVE is a great feeling!"

McCoughtry played with Team USA at the 2012 Olympics in London, when her team took home the gold. Let's hope history repeats in Rio.

Víctor Gutiérrez, water polo

This 25-year-old professional water polo player from Madrid qualified to compete with Team Spain in June, just one month after discussing his sexuality for the first time publicly with Spanish-language magazine Shangay.

“I’m out of the closet in my environment,” said Gutiérrez. “My family knows I’m gay—my friends, too. And I’m living in such a positive way with my sexuality that I felt a responsibility to share it with others.”

Dutee Chand

Last summer Indian sprinter scored a victory for inclusion in sports when the Court of Arbitration in Sport ruled that testosterone levels alone could not be the determining factor for participation in women's sports.

Chand, who suffers from hyperandrogenism, had been disqualified from the 2014 Commonwealth Games at the last minute, because of regulations designed to address a perceived advantage for female athletes with naturally high testosterone levels.

Civil rights activists and sports commentators criticized how her tests were leaked to the public, which they called a violation of her dignity and privacy.

"Dutee is not the problem but the system is problem," wrote Santhi Soundarajan, another Indian sprinter penalized by gender tests. "An athlete cannot fail their gender."

She is only third Indian women to ever qualify for the Women's 100 meters event at the Summer Olympics.

Carl Hester, dressage

This champion equestrian brought England the gold in dressage at the 2012 Games in London, where he was Team GB's only openly gay member. (Tom Daley was still not out.)

Team GB's dressage team has not been announced, but good money is on Hester having a spot. It will mark the 49-year-old rider's fifth Olympic games.

Ian Matos, diving

This 27-year-old doesn't have far to go—he moved to Rio as a teen to pursue his Olympic dreams and became the three-meter champion in 2013. “I knew I was gay from a young age, but it was here that I got to live my sexuality,” he revealed.

Friends advised him to stay closeted until after the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio Matos said hiding boyfriends, avoiding gay parties and not being himself was too draining.

He praised Tom Daley's example and hope coming out won't affect possible sponsorships. “I don’t think it will hinder me, but I can’t just think that the world agrees with me,” he said.

Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, swimming

This Finnish swimmer, who competed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, came out ahead of the Sochi Winter Games in hope of drawing attention to Russia's homophobic law.

“I wanted to start a broader discussion in connection with Sochi, because it’s sad that the legislation in Russia restricts the human rights of young people and others,” Liukkonen said. "In the future I hope that elite athletes and other people will not find homosexuality to be any kind of news.”

Liukkonen, 27, admits homosexuality wasn’t discussed in his community when he was growing up: “I tried to forget about it, but during high school I began to accept that I am made this way,” he said. "This has been a long, slow process for me, but now I’m there... [and] it’s a really great feeling that I can finally be myself.”

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